Published by LawTechie - March 9, 2015 - LawTechie

“Thoughts” not “position” because, to be frank, I have yet to read a compelling argument to land on either side of the net neutrality debate. I do have some concerns, however, about the “religious fervor” that pro-regulation has taken on in Silicon Valley (according to this Mercury News article at any rate).

In Silicon Valley, “net neutrality has taken on almost a religious fervor — it has become a line in the sand,” said Larry Gerston, professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State.”This is the heart of Twitter,” the company said in a statement after the FCC’s vote. “Without such net neutrality principles in place, some of today’s most successful and widely known Internet companies might never have come into existence.”

The trouble with Twitter’s comment is this: when Twitter and today’s other most successful and widely known Internet companies came into existence, there were no such net neutrality principles in place. And to the extent that such principles existed as a philosophy, but not legislation, who is to say that such principles will not continue to exist without the FCC’s current proposals?

Again, I have not seen much more than political (read: vacuous) rhetoric from either side of this debate so I cannot yet say where I stand. But as a proponent of Internet venture growth–emerging companies being the bread and butter of my clientele–I am concerned about who, in Silicon Valley, has displayed the most fervor in support of FCC regulation. We are talking about Twitter, Google, and Netflix–hardly the kind of companies that would benefit from a renewed surge of entrepreneurial growth on the Internet since such growth would only benefit their competition.

The way I see it, if Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon also suddenly throw their support behind regulation, then we’ll have absolute confirmation that the FCC regulation is a Big Business fortification of the barrier to entry for Internet startups. After all, Obamacare was the last time we saw big companies, insurance carriers, who seemingly had the most to lose from a new piece of law throw their weight behind it… and that turned out so well.

Update: Thoughts continued here.

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.


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