I’ve written quite a bit about net neutrality over the last couple of months. I’ve learned a lot about the issue while reading and writing about it. I’ve gotten a few things right, and a couple wrong, but hopefully I’ve at least highlighted the importance of the issue. This evening I was reading a few of the blogs I regularly read when I came across a post by Brad Burnham from Union Square Ventures that talks specifically about the changes the FCC will take up on December 21. The crux of Brad’s proposal is based on language suggested by Barbara van Schewick, a professor at the Stanford Law School:
A non-discrimination rule that bans all application-specific discrimination (i.e. discrimination based on applications or classes of applications), but allows application-agnostic discrimination.
The great thing about this approach is that it seems to answer the big objection of the ISPs to any net neutrality rule. ISPs can still regulate bandwidth to protect the health of their infrastructure. They can still throttle networks to handle demand, and they can still charge more for faster/better service. But they can not discriminate based on the application or type of application. In other words, an ISP could not slow only video traffic or any iTunes traffic. This should – and I emphasize “should” – prevent ISPs from stifling start ups and new innovation.
I encourage you to read Brad’s post in it’s entirety here. You can also see a video of Barbara van Schewick talking about net neutrality here. (warning: it’s almost 2 hours long). I would love to hear other thoughts on this proposed idea. It makes a lot of sense to me, but, like any proposed rules, there are sure to unintended consequences that I’m not seeing.