announcement on net neutrality offers an interesting paradox. On the one hand, the president believes that the currently unregulated Internet “(m)ore than any other invention of our time…has unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago.” These innovations include “digital devices, apps, and platforms that fuel growth and expand opportunity.” On the other hand, the president is adamant that “there should be no gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services.” He can’t have it both ways. Aside from the fact that the Internet has never been neutral – e.g., larger content providers are able to afford transport and delivery services that their smaller rivals cannot – evidence is mounting that customers prefer service with gatekeepers and that gatekeepers are a primary source of innovation. The White House’s disparaged gatekeepers are Internet Service Providers (ISPs), those broadband providers who some believe seek to limit the value of their services by restricting what customers can do on the web.
regulatory framework for the Internet for 20 years, and for the most recent decade the solution seemed to be the principle of net neutrality. Neutrality promises a continuation of the Internet’s quirky sense of normal, a state of affairs where new applications emerge out of nowhere and become central fixtures in a matter of weeks. The Internet was once all about eccentric little blogs and web sites. Then it shifted to Google, only to pivot to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; or maybe it’s really all about Netflix and a new home for HBO. The only constant in this environment is that the flavor of the month will be replaced by something tastier as soon as we get comfortable with it.