The only reason for Congress to turn the clock back to 2015 is to enjoy the comfort of a well-worn path. This is cowardly and counter-productive; the rank and file should say “no” and demand a more serious approach to Internet regulation from their party leadership.
Net neutrality was created at a time when the only large firms conducting Internet business were ISPs. It was sensible for lawmakers to focus on ISPs in 2003. But today’s Internet is dominated by non-ISP edge services that routinely abuse personal information. Internet law need to leap forward to the present day.
Net neutrality was promoted by Silicon Valley to take policy makers’ eyes off the massive dossiers of personal data its major players assembled from their platforms. Now that the public is aware of this (very real) behavior, the claims of possible harms to consumers from the lack of net neutrality regulations are much less compelling.
If you’re a fan of books on tech and tech policy this is a particularly good time for you because so much new stuff is hot off the presses. Here’s a short list of the books in my reading queue at the moment, along with a couple of longish journal articles.
Creating a network that can be all things to all people was a monumental undertaking. Making it work for every user in the most reliable, safe, and economical way is even harder. I happily shared the Amicus Brief with Larry last October that was influenced so heavily by his work on Telenet; and I was glad that it pleased him.
We need clarity about our antitrust standards as they apply to the Internet, safeguards for personal data, and reverse auctions to bring better broadband to rural America. None of that is terribly sexy, but it’s all important.
In reality, the Markey amicus doesn’t describe the Internet that we use today. It addresses an entirely different system that didn’t exist in the past either. ISP service is combination of transmission and information processing that serves the needs of the information society. And it appears to be serving those needs pretty darned well.
Enjoying the benefits of ICT and the Information Age requires us to adopt new models of regulation that are fit for the task. For this to happen, we’ll need to stop demonizing every new invention for the sake of eyeballs, audience, and ad revenues.
The Obama FCC admitted that it could not find the sweet spot. In the 2015 Open Internet Order, former Chairman Wheeler simply claimed regulatory authority to sanction firms for behaviors he could not anticipate. Rather than creating bright line rules, Wheeler raised his voice and issued threats. Angry threats have subsequently become the preferred way to regulate not only the Internet but its regulators as well. This is not productive, but it’s the road chosen by many.