Thursday, August 24, 2006

What do you think? What is your take on net neutrality?

From the proceeds of the Aspen Summit 2006, Global Competition, Convergence & Culture from the Freedom & Progress Foundation held this week:

Deborah Platt Majoras, Federal Trade Commission Chairman, asserted that while phone and cable companies are exempt from FTC regulation for common carrier services, the FTC can regulate non-common carrier services, including their activities as internet providers.

Verizon, AT&T and other large telephone companies want to charge ISPs and content providers fees based on bandwidth usage of their new fiber lines. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft claim the plan will lead to the development of a slow lane on the Internet for most consumers as preferred packets of information would take precedence over your online activities.
Legislating precisely is tough enough; it can be difficult to choose the right words to cover situations that you want to cover, while excluding those you do not especially given that no one knows what new situations will arise.
Chairman Majoras said the FTC has the authority to regulate net neutrality and said that the FTC will step in IF regulation is needed. Ms. Majoras has formed an Internet Access Task Force to study and report on these and other issues raised by calls for network neutrality laws.
. . . when fear of marketplace disadvantage arises, there is a tendency to quickly turn to government to seek protection or help . . . I just question the starting assumption that government regulation, rather than the market itself under existing laws, will provide the best solution to a problem.
Read Chairman Majoras' entire speech (PDF) from The Aspen Summit.

Andy Schwartzman, head of the Media Access Project, a public interest law firm, said that the FTC essentially created net neutrality when it places the condition of open access on the Time Warner/AOL merger. Media Access Project has a good explanation of open access.

What do you think? What is your take on net neutrality? Let me know how you feel in a comment.

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