Tim Wu, Jonathan Zittrain, and Other TAP Scholars Join in Recent Net Neutrality Debate

By TAP Staff Blogger

Posted on August 11, 2010


Yesterday, the New York Times Room for Debate section focused on net neutrality in light of the Google and Verizon joint proposal. Who Gets Priority on the Web? prompted debate by asking if government should, or could, enforce net neutrality –especially given some of the content is accessed through mobile devices. Additionally, the debate prodded for exploration of how a two-tiered system could change content creation, innovation or access to the web.

Several TAP scholars shared their expertise in exploring this heated debate.

Tim Wu
, Professor of Law at Columbia University, explores Controlling Commerce and Speech.  "The greatest danger of the fast lane is that it completely changes competition on the net. The advantage goes not to the firm that's actually the best, but the one that makes the best deal with AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast. Had there been a 2-tier Internet in 1995, likely, Barnes and Noble would have destroyed Amazon, Microsoft Search would have beaten out Google, Skype would have never gotten started -- the list goes on and on. We'd all be the losers."

Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, examines An Impenetrable Web of Fees. He sums up his thoughts with, “In a medium in which so many of the giants were yesterday’s scrappy upstarts — eBay, Google, even the Web itself — it would be a travesty to freeze out the next round of innovation from odd corners by deploying an impenetrable web of contracts and fees.”

Edward Felten, Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs at Princeton University, states that 'Neutrality' Is Hard to Define. “The question is not whether we want to keep this open, neutral Internet --- we do, or should --- but whether government rulemaking can give us the result we want.”

Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, discusses Another Deregulation Debacle. “As much as anything else, the economic success of the Internet comes from its architecture. The architecture, and the competitive forces it assures, is the only interesting thing at stake in this battle over “network neutrality.””