Backstory: Net Neutrality

Thursday, April 08, 2010

We’ll take a look at just what Net Neutrality is and its uncertain future in the wake of Tuesday’s ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the FCC lacks the authority to make broadband providers treat all Internet traffic equally. University of Michigan Law School Professor Susan Crawford joins us for today’s Backstory segment. Ms. Crawford is also former Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy in the Obama Administration.


Susan Crawford

Comments [3]

Larry Seltzer from Maplewood, NJ

Ms Crawford said a lot that wasn't true in her interview. I'll pick on one point: She said that Comcast "never, ever compete[s] with the other major cable providers." In fact, I know that in New Jersey Comcast competes extensively with Verizon FiOS in the same towns as they do in Philadelphia. I can choose either of them. In neighboring South Orange, NJ residents can choose between Cablevision and FiOS.

The bigger point she was making, to imply that the ability to manage networks somehow is a threat to free speech is too ludicrous to take seriously. There's absolutely no evidence that this has ever happened and no reason for ISPs to take such actions. On the other hand, rules proposed by Ms Crawford and her allies would likely cause general degradations in Internet service.

Apr. 09 2010 07:21 AM
GW from Manhatan

This is really a case of redefining a defined term. Federal COMMUNICATIONS commission regulates communications and common carriers. Well, since the cable companies and others use the net for PHONE calls, that means they have assumed the common carrier mantle. Since the internet is based on a government project DARPA and is used for communications it makes sense that it has the ability to regulate it. Usage discrimination is not valid either. You pay for access and then you should be able to use it as you wish. its up to the providers to build out the system to allow for huge files to be transmitted quickly and thus free up the services for other requests. It is because the network is so slow in the USA that these so called" bandwidth issues" come into play. Are we suggesting that "Unlimited calling means you cant talk to you friend in Alaska for 3 hours if you want to? ATT&T built a network to handle that ... so build one to handle the demand in this case too.

Apr. 08 2010 01:57 PM
Peter from Manhattan

There's more to Net Neutrality than a simple yes/no answer to the question of whether internet service providers should be allowed to arbitrarily interfere with traffic on their networks.

I am strongly in favor of Net Neutrality because Comcast and their ilk cannot be trusted to regulate our communications. Yet, they have a point when they complain that services like BitTorrent are bandwidth hogs.

What we need is a firm political decision in favor of Net Neutrality, mitigated by technological solutions that prevent abuses like bandwidth hogging.

(You can find an overview of the technological issues at

Apr. 08 2010 01:06 PM

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