A Third Way for Net Neutrality?

Given what’s at stake in the current debate over net neutrality, it’s easy to approach the issue as either/or. The idea that there might be a third way to address the issue, one that’s less polarized and more plausible, is something to be seriously considered by parties on both sides.

AT&T’s fascinating third-way proposal on net neutrality by Brian Fung (posted by The Washington Post on September 15, 2014)

I like that this creates a case for compromise. It worries me, though, that no one seems able to envision how this would actually work. I’m very interested to see how this proposal develops or if other people present alternative “third-way” options.

But then there’s this statement from the article:

Net neutrality advocates worry that such a system [preferentially tiered fast-lanes] would tilt the Internet economy against startups and small businesses…

This massively understates the concern. This isn’t just an issue of small business vs. big business. This is a rich vs. poor issue, haves vs. have-nots. This is an issue of basic social equality. Depending on the precedents set now, this could easily become a personal issue of access to education, resources, and governmental process. This is an issue of entrenched inequality for individuals.

Whether you’re presenting arguments for or against net neutrality, or presenting arguments for compromise, to couch them primarily in terms of how it would affect businesses—and not how these issues affect people in their daily lives—worries me.

It worries me that decisions are being made without due consideration for the true stakes and potential consequences.

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