Google, Verizon & Net Neutrality: a "Muddle Ground"

by Vault Law Editors | September 07, 2010

  • My Vault

Should “net neutrality” —the principle that ISPs ought not be allowed to favor some content with faster delivery—be legally enshrined to ensure “consumers the broadband Internet our country and economy need”? (The “Father of the Internet” says YES. Oh, except for wireless.)

Recent FCC efforts to work out a broad agreement on net neutrality have been stalled—and have prompted a widely decried Google/Verizon splinter proposal.

A recent, thoughtful—and pro-Google—piece in the NYTimes considers the state of play. Joe Nocera argues, essentially, that the Obama FCC—rhetorically strongly in favor of net neutrality—has painted itself into a corner by abdicating jurisdiction under the 1996 Telecommunications Act:

Net neutrality is in limbo because the public interest purists believe that any compromise is a sellout, and because the F.C.C. so badly shot itself in the foot by pursuing the Comcast case. It is difficult to see how we’re ever going to get net neutrality rules.

This “muddle ground” is, however, a good thing:

Consumers have come to expect an open Internet, and companies will violate net neutrality at their peril. That is just the way the Internet has evolved.

See also:

  • Kelley Drye’s handy telecom law blog takes a look at “Overlooked Elements of the Verizon-Google Net Neutrality Proposal.” (“Overlooked elements” in any proposed law is functionally synonymous with “where the lawyers will get busy.”)
  • Engadget offers a layman's primer on the Google/Verizon proposal
  • Obviously this is all a moot argument if the Web is Dead.
-posted by brian

Filed Under: Law

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