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Net Neutrality Reflection

So this afternoon my charge is to lay out all the Net Neutrality (NN) issues to a bar association that doesn’t have a telecom subcommittee. Writing it all down took a while this morning. It’s a hard story to make simple.

Cringely says that “In the end the ISPs [network providers] are going to win this [network neutrality] battle, you know. The only thing that will keep them from doing that is competition, something it is difficult to see coming along anytime soon, rather like [a] lemonade-powered sports car.” He points out that cable systems can easily prioritize things if they see congestion, and that traffic shaping has the same effect as discrimination. (Not that we have any real data about shaping inside these private networks.)

So will we see competition? I’m going to say that the spectrum auction later this year is raising hopes of that. (Good Wired story here.)

Meanwhile, the 9th Circuit casts asparagus on sites that encourage people to fill out forms—Section 230 immunity is at stake. (Eric Goldman roundup) It’s an odd case. I wonder whether the big online companies will appeal. I hope they will. This is potentially a bipartisan issue that the current Court might treat fairly.

By Susan Crawford, Professor, Cardozo Law School in New York City

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