Category Archives: Net Neutrality

This Moment in Net Neutrality

March 2, 2015

While the future of how (and, ultimately, by whom) broadband Internet connectivity will ultimately be regulated remains to be determined, the current moment in Net Neutrality is an interesting one for what the media interest and wave of public comment to the FCC tell us. The seemingly overwhelming endorsement by the interested public of at least some version of neutrality, and the willingness (nay, demand) to see the federal government take on a role in ensuring neutrality makes for what seems likely to be an important constitutional moment in defining the future of Internet regulation and governance, regardless of how the regulatory (or, eventually, legislative) details are hashed out.

The American public has demonstrated that it doesn’t regard broadband Internet at all as an entertainment service — as something at least metaphorically akin to the cable television programming that some of its high-bandwidth users compete with — but as something more “utility-like.” A standard fixture, like hot-and-cold water or electricity, that we expect to be served without more than a health-and-safety level regard for what particular “appliances” (literal or metaphorical) we will plug in to it. While it is certainly the case that the Internet is also not the same as the traditional telephone network, and there may well be continuing challenges with how to “fit” the various component networks of the Internet into the (1930s vintage) Communications Act and (1990s vintage) Telecommunications Act regulatory model (or to replace that model), we’ve ended up with a clear picture of broadband Internet as an essential and at least relatively mature technology that is a vital component of modern life. And we’ve seen a clear sense that internet services must continue to interconnect fully and freely and with sufficient “neutrality” that equivalent access to “the same” broader Internet is available regardless of what natural-monopoly carrier serves a particular home or business.

We’ve certainly seen what seems to me to be a really powerful endorsement by the general Internet-attuned public that we regard the network (including the last-mile networks piped to our houses) as the infrastructure for the services we care about, not as the service, and that the public actually does “get” the values behind hoary old Internet end-to-end principles.

Net Neutrality: Is the Web just a super-television?

Do our metaphors for debating net neutrality leave enough room to discuss the original Web, which was glorified as a venue in which anyone could create, develop, and publish? Will concerns related to the management of an Internet of high-bandwidth video, applications, and data-driven services crowd out the ecosystem that sustains the still-vibrant “old” Internet and its “killer app,” the traditional World Wide Web of sites and “pages”?

Are the Internet and the Web a super-television, a super-telephone… or perhaps more of a super-printing-plant combined with a super-post-office? These questions of metaphor lie behind so many of the disconnects in the “net neutrality” argument, including those over whether FCC action under the Communications Act would be regulation or deregulation of the Internet.

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Justice Scalia (indirectly) on Net Neutrality

November 12, 2014

Jenna Greene, in the National Law Journal, discusses Justice Scalia’s 2005 dissent in a case upholding the FCC’s classification of cable broadband providers — the same classification that the D.C. Circuit later found exempted them from regulation as common carriers. National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. Brand X Internet Services dealt with the classification of broadband cable Internet service and upheld the FCC’s 2002 classification of broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service.” Scalia was joined by Justices Ginsburg and Souter in a dissent that would have found that such classification was not a reasonable interpretation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

(No pay wall to read up to 5 articles/month, but you do need to either go through their own free registration or connect with LinkedIn credentials.)

White House Endorses “Common Carrier” Net Neutrality Rule

November 10, 2014

In a press statement today, President Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to endorse a relatively strict form of network neutrality regulation. His statement specifically endorsed classifying consumer broadband provders as telecommunications providers subject (under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Pub. L. 104-104) to regulation as “common carriers” under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.

The New York Times reports the story here. The Presidential statement is online here.

‘Net Neutrality’ in the News

The FCC is scheduled to vote today on a proposal from its Chairman to revise the FCC rules governing the network management practices of “last mile” wired broadband Internet providers — those (primarily cable) companies that provide broadband Internet connections to mainstream end users. The scheduled vote is to approve issuance of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which, via the Federal Register, will be made formally available for public comment. Continue reading

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Google-Verizon Net Neutrality Announcement

This post is a minor update and revision (I fixed a few more typos!) of one that appeared on lawlibrary.case.edu in August 2010.

Google and Verizon made a joint announcement today of general policy principles that they billed (in a joint blog post) as a “joint policy proposal for an open Internet.” Such an announcement can be very significant in setting the parameters of debate within Congress and the FCC for the appropriate “neutrality” standard in regulating Internet service providers — regulation in which major Internet content companies and major Internet network/bandwidth providers are two of the major stakeholders (though query whether Google doesn’t now wear both hats).

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