Looking at Both Sides of Net Neutrality Through a Lively Debate
The Media Law Forum, in association with¬†the Entertainment Law Society, Intellectual Property Law Society¬†and Law Commentator, presented a ‘Net Neutrality Forum’ for an enthusiastic audience of students, faculty and staff. Second-year students Carly Hill and Jordan Stern debated against third-year students Addison Martinez and Cristian Reyes on this hot button issue surrounding internet data access and usage from both sides of the fence – free market and government regulation.
Second-year student Nicole Christman introduced the topic, covering the basics of net neutrality, common carriers and the FCC’s position on the internet. “Some say the question essentially comes down to whether the Internet should be considered a common carrier or not,” she said. “In 2010, the FCC refrained from classifying ISP’s as common carriers, because it wanted to refrain from overly regulating the Internet. But as of the January ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C., the FCC rules are no longer in effect and they are recasting their rules. Also, there is talk about the potential Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, so we will see what is to come. And in the meantime, it would be good to understand both sides of the net neutrality argument.”
The debate was moderated by Professor Michael Epstein, with guest commentary by Professors Warren Grimes, Robert Lind and Michael Scott. Both sides presented strong arguments, stressing issues such as already-existing Internet Service Provider monopolies; issues related to profit and control; protecting privacy; supporting innovation, competition and small businesses; proposed tier-based usage plans; and other facets related to the consumer and supplier considerations.
Following the formal debate portion, Professor Epstein queried the audience on a number issues. “It’s a pipeline,” he said. “All these sites, services and applications in the cloud are using this pipeline to get their content out there to you, the consumer. You are already paying for this pipeline, by opting to have monthly pay TV service. Should cloud-based companies pay to use that pipeline too? And if they do pay, would you the consumer end up footing the bill?”
For more on the topic, see these recent Law Commentator articles:
Netflix, Comcast, And Net Neutrality
How Does A $45.2 Billion Acquisition Affect YOU? Repercussions Of Comcast/Time Warner Merger