The Wall Street Journal devoted significant editorial space today to network neutrality, correctly recognizing that the proposed Congressional legislation would be the first significant regulation of the Internet. I like the fact that the author wonders whether Google will rue the day it lent support to MoveOn.org should the day come when these extremists decide that Google’s “pay for placement” policy on its search engine is no way “neutral.” Network neutrality, at heart, is government regulation of the Internet. In line with this, I did a radio appearance today on the Marc Steiner Show on WYPR, the NPR affiliate in Baltimore. The panel of guests included Sean Gallagher, Director of IT Strategy for Ziff Davis Media, Dr. Neil Kleinman, Dean of the College of Media and Communication at the University of the Arts. While Dr. Kleinman and I clearly disagreed on the network neutrality issue, at least he did not shy away from saying what it wasÃ¢â?¬â??a government regulatory regime to counter the effect market forces might have on the Internet and the World Wide Web. We talked a lot about the management challenges bandwidth-rich services would place on service providers and who ultimately should be responsible for bearing the cost of alleviating that strain. It was a welcome shift from the rhetoric about network neutrality being needed to save free speech on line. The discussion should be available for download at www.wypr.org/M_Steiner.html within 48 hours.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.