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Net Neutrality: What’s the Problem?

- February 27, 2007 - 2 Comments

SAN JOSE, CA – So, I’m at the Tech Policy Summit at the Hayes Mansion and Declan McCullagh of CNET is leading a panel entitled “The Future of the Internet: The End of the Web as We Know It?” On the panel is Andrew McLaughlin, Head of Global Public Policy and Senior Counsel at Google; Lauren Gelman, Associate Director of Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society; and Jim Dempsey, Policy Director for the Center for Democracy and Technology. The topic of the panel has moved to Net Neutrality and I must admit that I’m as confused as ever…nothing new here, but nothing has cleared up for me on “the other side’s position.”Andrew McLaughlin said that he is “a big fan of evidence based policy making” yet Google will “absolutely” support net neutrality legislation this session of Congress even though the “details of the legislation are still being worked on.” Hence, my confusion.Further, Lauren Gelman says that people should have the same access to her blog as they would to a Britney Spears video released by a major corporation. Um…my confusion quotient is getting higher. I’m pretty sure I can access both of these now. I’ve even linked to them to use the “evidence based” way of looking at things. Which brings me back to “I’m a big fan of evidence based policy.” What is the evidence that there is a problem? Sure, there may be one or two anecdotes, but no evidence. Seriously, what’s the problem?One bit of logic (imho) was when McLaughlin echoed the recent sentiments of his CEO, Eric Schmidt, when he said he thinks the net neutrality issue will ultimately be solved by competition. Yep, the marketplace. That I understand.UPDATE: I guess I wasn’t the only one confused. Please read Scott Cleland’s blog entry here which includes reporting from Communications Daily on this panel.

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  1. Yeah, Lauren's correct. It's pretty obvious your confusion is self-inflicted, as you haven't been following along.There's no problem *yet*.Do some research on the advent of cassette tapes and how the radio execs were freaking out. This issue isn't new; it's been played out in the past.The past has shown us that when something as far-reaching as the Internet is subject to free market competition,"" greedy corporate peeps buy everything up."

  2. There *is* no problem now. The problem is what companies propose to implement in the future. The purpose of NN legislation (the type I'd like passed, at least) is to maintain the status quo.