Saturday, May 27, 2006

Net Neutrality All-Star: Harold Feld

Excellent and detailed historical review pointing to the explicit need for net neutrality from attorney Harold Feld:

COPE... strips the FCC of any rulemaking authority. It limits the FCC to doing case by case adjudications on the principles...

Those of us familiar with the history of the industry and the FCC understand this is just nuts. Prophylactic regulation in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s made it possible for people to develop the internet. If an emerging Amazon found it needed to file a complaint with the FCC to show that phone companies were blocking traffic to its website unless it paid up, or because the phone company had partnered with, they would have died before staff got around to denying the complaint for want of evidence. No venture capitalist would have invested in web services anymore than they invest in cable channels. Blogs like this would not have happened, because no one would have bothered to develop them.

And we would never miss any of it, because we would never have known what we could have had.

As if stripping the FCC of rulemaking weren't bad enough, COPE also allows the cable and telco companies to charge third parties for “premium access” to subscribers, a behavior I call “Whitacre Tiering” after AT&T CEO Ed Whiatcre. As I've written before, I think Whitacre tiering would prove a disaster for democracy and a disaster for business (and, apparently, the banking and financial services industry are starting to agree)...

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