And You Think Bureaucrats Could do Better?

by on November 15, 2007 · 0 comments

In the recent Verizon Uprisin’ (successor to the Comcast Kerfuffle – how’m I doin’?), the blogospheric back-and-forth between TLFer Tim Lee (writing at TechDirt) and TLFriend Ed Felten illustrates nicely the difficulty with both parts of the case for ‘net neutrality regulation.

The first question is whether there is a problem that needs solving. The two disagree about whether Verizon’s operation of its DNS servers is a ‘net neutrality violation at all.

The second question is whether the problem is better solved by regulation or by market processes (expert agitation, consumer pressure, etc. that carry with them the threat or reality of lost customers and profits). As a technical matter, Tim points out that people are free to point their computers to another DNS server, such as OpenDNS. Ed says “it might turn out that the regulatory cure is worse than the disease.”

Even among those who disagree on whether there’s a substantive ‘net neutrality violation here, regulation doesn’t seem to be the cure. Even Harold Feld hasn’t written a triumphal post. (Though, in fairness, he seems to be distracted – and oh so giddy – about cable regulation.)

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