The network neutrality debate: It all depends on what you fear

The debate over network neutrality, which saw a spike in news
reporting two weeks ago over the joint
Google/Verizon proposal
, confuses a lot of laypeople — and not just
laypeople — because of all the different levels on which it’s being
argued and the opposing ways language is used by different
participants. I discuss the use of loaded language such as
“censorship” and “innovation” in an article on my website, which is also being published
today in the American

In that article, I suggest three levels into which one can roughly
divide the arguments made on each side. Competition is the
basis for the controversy, but both sides like to extend it to issues
of censorship. Most subtle, and most important, are questions
of creativity, usually aired as concerns about “innovation”
or a recently invented term, “generativity.”

Each of these concepts appears different to those debating them
because they also apply at multiple levels of networking. For
instance, some people are most concerned with competition, investment,
and innovation at the application level (Google, Yahoo!, and so on)
while others worry more about the lower levels of networking
infrastructure: who will supply fiber and routers to make the Internet
work? I end the article with a bit about motivations and sources for content on the Internet.

You can find the full piece here.


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