Lex 8256: The Law in
Network Neutrality (Brad)
First, write down a definition of what you think network neutrality
means. Be prepared to bring this definition to class; each person will
read their definition, and we will discuss whether or not these
definitions changed after the reading. After we have discussed the
definitions, I will provide a brief explanation of internet technology
and explain why some people claim that the internet was created
After you have written your definition, please read Tim Wu, Why You Should Care About
Network Neutrality (May 1, 2006). For additional background,
please read Tim Wu, Network Neutrality
Read pages 32-43 of the FCC's Universal
Service Report (1998).
Do you think that the internet really is that much different
from a telecommunications service? Isn't internet access really just a
transmission path between whatever content you're looking at online and
Then read pages 23-35 of the FCC's
Over Cable Order. What do you think? Are you convinced
that cable modem service is not a telco service? This distinction is
important because it influences what type of authority the FCC has to
regulate broadband providers.
After the Internet Over Cable
order, the FCC first attempted to enforce network
neutrality in In re Madison River
Communications. The FCC received complaints from Madison
River customers claiming that Madison River was blocking ports commonly
used for Vonage and other VOIP services. The FCC started an
investigation, and then entered into a consent decree with Madison
Madison River agreed to pay $15,000 to the US Treasury in order to
the investigation. It also agreed to refrain from blocking or
filtering traffic for the next two years. What do you think? Should
Madison River have just paid the fine? What do you think about the
two-year expiration period?
In 2005, after Madison River,
the FCC promulgated a Policy Statement regarding network neutrality.
The FCC later claimed that Comcast's network manafement practices
violated this statement of policy. Please read the D.C. Circuit's
decision in Comcast
v. FCC, 600 F.2d 642 (D.C. Cir 2010).
What do you think? Do you think that the FCC does not have a
"statutorily mandated responsibility" to regulate the internet and
Then read FCC Chair Julius Genchowski's alternative proposal The
Third Way: A Narrowly Tailored Broadband Framework (May 6,
2010). What do you think? Does the proposal make sense?
Finally, please read the FCC's actual Order
regarding Network Neutrality (Dec. 23, 2010),
pages 1-85 and 88-96. Although it seems long, almost half of every page
is footnotes. What do you think about the FCC's assertion of authority?
Does it overcome the DC Circuit's ruling in Comcast?
Has your definition of network neutrality changed at all, or
is it the same? Do you think network neutrality is more important now,
or do you think that the FCC should stay out of it? A lot of people who
are against network neutrality claim that regulation will be bad for
the internet, and that the government should stay out of the
regulation. What are your thoughts?