Problems of Legislating Network Neutrality: From Economic Theory to Legislative Reality
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After the FCC changed the Internet?s status from a telecommunication to an information medium in 2005, several Internet service providers (Verizon, AT&T, Comcast) announced intentions to put into place various business plans that would favor their services and the services of companies that paid them a fee. These plans would allow provider companies to recoup the costs of expanding their broadband capabilities. Many service and application providers, as well as academics and various political action groups, are concerned that these changes will result in dwindling competition amongst innovators of Internet applications, preventing the new Google or Yahoo! from emerging, as well as harming the quality and diversity of services available to consumers. These plans would also fundamentally change the physical and theoretical bases of the Internet, for the first time instilling gatekeepers in the structure of the Internet, capable of monitoring and controlling consumers browsing. The issue of net neutrality has been constantly in discussion since 2005 with multiple pieces of legislation being proposed, voted on, and vetoed, usually straight down party lines. Meanwhile, consumers are demanding faster Internet service and constituents are pushing their representatives to make a resolution on net neutrality. The incoming president should support legislation of network neutrality because it will ensure that structural neutrality and independent innovation remain an integral part of the Internet, keeping competition high and benefitting the consumer and the U.S. economy.