Lessig's Neutrality

2:50 Pm -- I don't have scientific poll results to back me up, but I think a lot of people have the wrong impression of Lawrence Lessig's net neutality views.

The Stanford University professor has long been a champion of various Internet freedoms, but he's not a net neutrality purist -- that is, he doesn't believe every bit on the Internet must be treated equally.

That puts him at odds with much of the net neutrality crowd, but his point -- one I agree with -- is that a carrier should be allowed to offer better service at a higher price. "Productive discrimination" is the phrase he used at April's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shindig at Stanford. (See Net Neutrality Gets Its Hearing.) I think a lot of people, in claiming Lessig is on their side, ignore that point.

Others apparently never realized it, as Lessig himself points out in a small screed this morning. Lessig got cited in today's Wall Street Journal article about Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) potentially undercutting net neutrality with a proposal to "create a fast lane for its own content" -- something Google, in a blogged response to the story, denies doing.

Lessig seems most peeved that he's being accused of changing his stance. "If I'm wrong, I've always been wrong," he concludes.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:25:07 PM
re: Lessig's Neutrality Krbabu -- I understand your point, but I like the way I've phrased things here. I've talked to many people outside the industry who take "net neutrality" to mean total nondiscrimination of bits -- maybe "absolutist" would have been a better word. In discussing the differences of opinion, I find it's easier to start from there and work my way over to Lessig's arguments.
krbabu 12/5/2012 | 3:25:07 PM
re: Lessig's Neutrality By using the phrase "net neutrality purist", the article already presumes what net neutrality means. If there is not a commonly understood definition, it is best to examine Lessig's views as a starting point.
hyperunner 12/5/2012 | 3:25:06 PM
re: Lessig's Neutrality Hi Craig,
Actually the Wikipedia article is worth a read:


It sounds as though you're taking the "Absolute Non-Discrimination" interpretation referred to in the article.

But in general that's not what ISPs seem to be implementing - at the very least there's throttling a la Comcast, and more generally there are variable bandwidth caps for different monthly rates.

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