Net neutrality sucked the oxygen out of Internet policy for a decade, turning every discussion of Internet policy into a debate over the best way to ensure the Internet remained true to this newly discovered foundational principle of the Internet. But these promises were hollow because net neutrality only applied to one part of the Internet, data transmission between consumers, Internet-based businesses, and Internet Service Providers.
Net neutrality is an odd issues because it correctly identifies some problems that do take place on the Internet – blocking, throttling, and leveraging platform dominance – while attributing them to the wrong parties. I
To the extent that advocates have praised the Hooton study, they have done so by taking its claims at face value without examining the methodology or by simply expressing glee that Hooton got the “right answer” that comports with their project.
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.
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.
Senate Democrats and their pals in Silicon Valley and in the media had a good day. But life goes on and the serious issues remain to be addressed. That’s why it’s not merely a talking point to say that bi-partisan legislation absolutely needs to be written for the orderly regulation of entire Internet.
We need IA, the ISPs, Congress, and the regulatory agencies to come together and draft a new section for the Communications Act addressing privacy, security, fraud and other criminal conduct, and market concentration.
Let’s not be distracted by shiny objects any more. The Internet still has tremendous promise as well as serious problems to solve. Making it better through continuous experimentation should be the top priority.