Ideology and Net NeutralityBy http://profile.typepad.com/1237764140s22740 // August 17, 2010 in Net Neutrality
Sure enough, just as with taxes, net neutrality is now being discussed in ideological terms.
For extreme free-market rhetoric that borders on the religious, see this bit from a piece by Dan Frommer in Business Insider:
"ISPs like Comcast and Verizon are in business to sell Internet access to as many people as possible. They would not do anything that would jeopardize their subscriber retention. If even the slightest disruption occurred, the companies would retreat. They are not in business to lose customers."
With faith that pure, you needn't bother to reference any consumer experience you or anyone you know has ever had!
While fatalistically conceding that forces of corporate darkness will likely triumph, here now is analysis by Frank Pasquale that assumes carriers will bypass market forces altogether and write their own rules:
"We’ve seen a cognate regulatory arbitrage story before in the financial sector: think of the opaque dealmaking that sunk big banks, and the rating agencies’ First Amendment immunity from liability for utterly conflicted assessments of mortgage-backed securities. The dual assertion of trade secrecy [arising in part from carrier efforts to make network-management practices proprietary] and First Amendment protection [to protect ranking practices as Google protects search results] may be a cornerstone of crony capitalism for years to come."
Will this debate spiral off into separate ideological camps?
Here's a voice right down the middle, Edward Felten's, from the New York Times opinion colloquy:
"The question is not whether we want to keep this open, neutral Internet --- we do, or should --- but whether government rulemaking can give us the result we want. 'Neutrality' is easy to envision but difficult to define precisely. Network operators need reasonable leeway to manage their networks. We don’t want to mistake their complex but neutral network management practices for actual discrimination; nor do we want to enable subtle discrimination cloaked in network jargon. Whether government can police this boundary effectively is a question we can’t hope to resolve here."
Check that; it rings more like a non-ideological voice. We have here concern for the integrity of the Internet as a force for innovation, and skepticism over whether regulators will have the necessary judgment to discern the right differences.