Net neutrality judge: 'I actually' own a smartphone

Net neutrality judge: 'I actually' own a smartphone
© Getty Images

Appeals court Judge David Tatel, who will help decide the fate of new Internet regulations, assured lawyers during oral arguments Friday he uses a modern cellphone.

"I actually have a smartphone," said Tatel, 73, who has been steeped in the net neutrality debate for the past half-decade. He is being closely watched by court observers, because he wrote two prior opinions that shot down earlier Federal Communications Commission rules. 


In one of the more lighthearted moments of oral arguments in the case Friday, Tatel made a point to correct the record after he insinuated that he owned a cellphone with only calling capabilities. 

Tatel, the first blind appeals court judge, clarified that he only uses his smartphone for calls. 

"I am equivalent to someone who only owns a cellphone," he said to laughs. 

He made the clarification after two different lawyers brought up Tatel as being an exception to the ubiquity of smartphones.  

A Pew Research study earlier this year found that 64 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone. That number is higher when you include children older than 13. 

The case Friday dealt with the FCC's controversial decision to reclassify Internet service under common carrier rules. Those rules apply to mobile broadband for the first time ever.