Net Neutrality Issues and Barbara van Schewick’s “Internet Architecture and Innovation” Book

By TAP Staff Blogger

Posted on September 28, 2012


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In her book, “Internet Architecture and Innovation,” Professor Barbara van Schewick states that the Internet’s remarkable growth has been fueled by innovation; and she argues that this explosion of innovation is not an accident, but a consequence of the Internet’s architecture. The technical choices regarding the Internet’s inner structure were made early in its history. Professor van Schewick goes on to point out that network providers are changing the Internet’s architecture in ways that deviate from the Internet’s original design principles, and she cautions that these changes threaten the Internet’s ability to spur economic growth, to improve democratic discourse, and to provide a decentralized environment for social and cultural interaction in which anyone can participate.
 
Internet Architecture and Innovation,” recently released in paperback, has come to be recognized as an essential work on the policy of network neutrality. Given the net neutrality issues that have been in the news lately, the information in this book is as relevant now as when it was originally published two years ago.
 
A few recent network neutrality news stories:
  • AT&T is facing complaints of violating the Open Internet rules with its decision to only allow customers with shared data plans to use the FaceTime service over its mobile network, but block customers still on older, unlimited packages.
     
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urged a federal appeals court early this month to uphold its net neutrality order against Verizon’s lawsuit. Verizon argued that Congress never gave the FCC the legal authority to adopt the regulations, and also claimed that the net neutrality rules violate its First Amendment free speech rights.
     
  • With the presidential election on the horizon, Scientific American asked the candidates what role the federal government should play in managing the Internet

    • Governor Mitt Romney’s response, in part: “It is not the role of any government to ‘manage’ the Internet. The Internet has flourished precisely because government has so far refrained from regulating this dynamic and essential cornerstone of our economy. I would rely primarily on innovation and market forces, not bureaucrats, to shape the Internet and maximize its economic, social and scientific value.”
       
    • President Barack Obama’s response, in part: “A free and open Internet is essential component of American society and of the modern economy. I support legislation to protect intellectual property online, but any effort to combat online piracy must not reduce freedom of expression, increase cybersecurity risk, or undermine the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”
 
 
About Barbara van Schewick
Barbara van Schewick is an Associate Professor of Law and Helen L. Crocker Faculty Scholar at Stanford Law School, an Associate Professor (by courtesy) of Electrical Engineering in Stanford University’s Department of Electrical Engineering, Director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, and a leading expert on network neutrality.
 
Her research on the economic, regulatory, and strategic implications of communication networks bridges law, networking and economics. Her papers on network neutrality have influenced regulatory debates in the United States, Canada and Europe.
 
More information about “Internet Architecture and Innovation” can be found at the book’s website: http://netarchitecture.org.

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