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Net Neutralities defined

Ed Felten offers a brief and useful taxonomy of Net neutrality. The discussion in the comments is helpful, too. So are David Isenberg’s additional thoughts.

Before the anti-NN folks pounce on the admitted ambiguity of the term, I have two comments.

First, free speech is even harder to pin down and apply, but it’s still a principle worth supporting. (Preemptive defense: No, I’m not saying free speech and NN are equally important. I’m making a point about the logic of the argument.)

Second, as far as I’m concerned, the core of NN, and underneath all three of Ed’s flavors, is the idea that the network should be equally open to all ideas. Or, put differently, those who provide access to the Net should not be allowed to favor some bits over others. Put thirdly, no one should be allowed to decide for others what the Net is for.

None of these formulations are easy to apply. Even doing a first-in-first-out prioritization favors some bits over others. But, this is exactly the same sort of argument one has about free speech: “Oh yeah, Mr. Free Speecher. So you think spies ought to be able to blab state secrets, and there shouldn’t be laws against perjury…?” NN is the right principle. How it’s applied is a matter of justice and politics.

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