I debated PK’s Art Brodsky last week about net neutrality on the international news channel, RussiaToday. Here are a few of my key points of disagreement with Art:
- The glittering generality of “Neutrality,” once enshrined in law for one layer of the Internet will be extended, sooner or later, to other layers. As Adam and I have warned, “the same rationale would apply equally to any circumstance in which access to a communications platform is supposedly limited to a few ‘gatekeepers.’” We’re already seeing this with fights over application neutrality and device neutrality, and calls for search neutrality are growing.
- Art insists that antitrust suits work too slowly. But he doesn’t address the basic question of what standard should govern network management. Should it be “neutrality uber alles” or, if we’re going to regulate in fashion, why shouldn’t we ask what’s good for consumers—the standard proposed by PFF’s 2005 Digital Age Communications Act (DACA)? Neutrality isn’t always best!
- Common carriage regulation didn’t work well for railroads (contrary to popular myth) and it worked even less well for communications media, retarding the development of new services like faxes, Internet services and cell phones. Regulating broadband providers the same way will work even more poorly because they aren’t just “big dumb pipes” providing a plain vanilla service and incapable of innovation that can benefit consumers.