So this WSJ article not only mischaracterizes Google's edge server deals with ISPs but tries to smear Barack Obama's commitment to net neutrality in the process, charges Larry Lessig. The article claims Lessig has "softened" his position on neutrality and that he is a potential pick for FCC chairman; thus, any softening on Lessig's part must mean Obama, who has dismayed the left with such picks as Larry Summers for a top economics post, is becoming more accomodating to Google's desire to claim the Internet for itself. (Lessig as FCC chairman works for me, but this blog is the only online reference I found to the suggestion, so I'm not sure that this is a serious rumor.)
Some of those who advise the new president on technology have changed their view on network neutrality. Stanford's Mr. Lessig, for one, has softened his opposition to variable service tiers. At a conference, he argued that carriers won't become kingmakers so long as the faster service at a higher price is available to anyone willing to pay it.
"There are good reasons to be able to prioritize traffic," Mr. Lessig said later in an interview. "If everyone had to pay the same rates for postal service, than you wouldn't be able to differentiate between sending a greeting card to your grandma versus sending an overnight letter to your lawyer."
On his blog, Lessig reacts angrily to the suggestion that he has changed his position on neutrality. His view, he says, is unchanged since 2006, simply put:
While broadband providers should be free, in my view, to price consumer access to the Internet differently — setting a higher price, for example, for faster or greater access — they should not be free to apply discriminatory surcharges to those who make content or applications available on the Internet.While he is willing to take criticism for that view, he is not willing to take a charge of waffling:
Now no doubt my position might be wrong. Some friends in the network neutrality movement as well as some scholars believe it is wrong -- that it doesn't go far enough. But the suggestion that the position is "recent" is baseless. If I'm wrong, I've always been wrong.