THE PLANK OCTOBER 23, 2009
Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to begin writing “net neutrality” rules to prevent Internet providers from determining which content or services reaches their customers.
Several weeks ago, Jeff Rosen wrote a magazine piece on network neutrality in which he argued that a lack of it can amount to discrimination, as well as restriction of free speech:
The Comcast case is a model for the free-speech battles of the future, where Internet and wireless providers may want to favor certain content providers over others in order to maximize profits at the expense of consumer choice. This problem is especially acute in the United States because of our lack of competition among broadband companies in most markets. In many towns, Comcast (or its regional equivalent) is the only plausible supplier of broadband. This raises the fear that Internet service providers will start striking deals with the likes of Facebook, charging a price for access that Facebook can afford, but making it impossible for other companies to compete.
It’s worth revisiting now, as the debate heats up.