Feb 08, 2006

lessig and cerf on net neutrality

Lessig's submitted testimony to the Commerce Committee for the net neutrality hearings is, as usual, worth a read.  He lays it out in plain English...

For the first time, network owners would have a strategic capability, as well as incentive, to create barriers to entry for new innovators. We should remember that the current leaders in Internet innovation all began with essentially nothing. Google, eBay, Yahoo! and Amazon all started as simple websites providing limited, but fantastic, services. They had to pay no special access-tax to be on the Internet; there was no special channeling by Internet providers that disadvantage these competitors relative to any others. They succeeded because the product they offered was better than others. Competition on the merits thus drove this market.

The critical fact behind Lessig's argument is that consumers are the victims of duopoly -- having to choose between telcos on the one hand and cablecos on the other.  Vint Cerf hammered this home in his testimony...

Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success. For the foreseeable future most Americans will face little choice among broadband carriers. Enshrining a rule that permits carriers to discriminate in favor of certain kinds or sources of services would place those carriers in control of online activity.

Both docs are worth reading in full.