Net Neutrality: Should All Internet Data be Treated Equally?

June 18, 2014  • Institute Contributor

The Communications and Society Program recently held an event featuring a panel of government and communications experts to discuss net neutrality.

Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu is a pioneer of the highly-publicized net neutrality principle — a phrase he coined — which asserts that all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat data within their networks the same. He recently spoke about neutrality at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC.

The Communications and Society Program’s event, called Getting Serious on the Net Neutrality Debate, featured other leaders in the field of government and communications relations, including AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs Jim Cicconi, Netflix Vice President of Global Government Relations Chris Libertelli, and Aspen Instiutute Communications and Society Fellow Blair Levin.

“The basic principle [of net neutrality] advocates a non-discriminatory treatment of similar traffic to the greatest extent possible,” Wu said during the event.

As the net neutrality debate continues, Wu said it’s important to keep an important principle in mind — meritocracy.

“The equal treatment over the last mile of the Internet gives companies a fair chance to compete on their merits, as opposed to compete based on who has preferential treatment from the carrier,” said Wu.

Jim Cicconi had a different perspective on the issue, stating that “the Internet itself, the middle mile concept, has always had inequality built into it.”

Watch the full session in the video above to hear the rest of the conversation.