Net Neutrality Follies

The New York Times’ recent editorial on Net neutrality sets a new standard for dismaying ignorance about how the Net actually works. It posits that the Verizon-NARAL texting snafu is a reason to support Net neutrality. But that two-year-old issue involved Verizon’s refusal to grant NARAL a short code, which has nothing to do with network operations!

The Times’ editorial also suggests that without federal neutrality regulation, “Businesses could slow down or block their competitors’ Web content.” But as Hogan & Hartson’s Christopher Wolf, one of the nation’s premier Internet attorneys, demonstrated in a detailed analysis more than three years ago:

“If the hypothetical fears of those calling for regulated ‘net neutrality’ actually do come to pass in some fashion, there are legal remedies already available under existing laws and legal doctrine.”

These options include unfair competition law, antitrust law, and common law tort theories. Moreover, as the Supreme Court confirmed in its Brand X decision, Title I of the Communications Act of 1934 gives the FCC power to take regulatory action if presented with unfair business tactics by broadband providers.

The Times’ editorial on Net neutrality shows a gross misunderstanding of the law, network operations, and the precarious dynamic of funding for Internet deployment. Other than that, it’s tolerable.