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Is the Network Neutrality bill in trouble?

Give me a legal definition of network neutrality, some specific language you would put into the law, which would be legally defensible, and which would hold for decades going forward.
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Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

After a day at the Freedom2Connect conference outside Washington, I am afraid that Senetor Ron Wyden's Network Neutrality bill may be going nowhere this year.

It's not that the legislation has no merit. It has great merit. It's not that the idea of Bell companies violating net neutrality, favoring some content over others, destroying the Internet and turning it into something more akin to cable television, is far-fetched. It is not.

But the Washington experts who spoke to the conference showed no interest in it. The inclination seemed to be, wait until the principle is egregiously violated, then jump in. And the audience, which should have been wildly enthusiastic, seemed more interested in getting new unlicensed spectrum as a route to competition than mandating it through a law.

Maybe I'm wrong. Your efforts, taken right now, could push this bill forward. David Weinberger, whose opinion I respect, insisted to me at a reception this evening that I'm wrong, that the bill is going forward.

It might go forward, but only if you push for it. Push actively, and push hard.

Because I saw an entire panel of House and Senate staffers working on the issue say most in Congress have trouble defining the concept, in a way that might be legally binding. I heard Level3 CEO James Q. Crowe, who competes most closely with the Bells, say that social pressure is a better way to force network neutrality than law.

And I heard former FCC chairman Michael Powell say that the idea is a non-starter. "The gospel of open Internet and edge innovation has great merit, but I worry about waiting for the government to give it to you. It’s dangerous. The legislative process does not work well when it has a weak understanding of innovation."

So, I hereby nominate each of you to Congress. House or Senate, take your pick. Give me a legal definition of network neutrality, some specific language you would put into the law, which would be legally defensible, and which would hold for decades going forward.

Lets git 'r done.

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