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Hazlett in WSJ: Net Neutrality Rules Hurt Consumers

Saying that net-neutrality rules hurt rather than help consumers, Professor Thomas Hazlett argues in the Wall Street Journal that the framework for an open Internet was developed by business practices emerging in an unregulated marketplace, rather than by policy, and that such regulation is unnecessary to its proper functioning.

"Where an ISP action is anticompetitive, such acts already are illegal under antitrust law," he points out. "Hence, net-neutrality regulations are superfluous. They impose a blanket prohibition on a large class of business models that are highly efficient."

"Allowing ISPs to operate without burdensome regulations does not deter the development of the Internet," Hazlett says. "It unleashes dynamic economic forces that continually discover new and better ways to compete. Mind-boggling innovation is the product of truly open markets—an unregulated, 'non-neutral' space of incredible scope and promise. That is what we have had. New regulations do not protect that model, but abandon it." 

Arguing in favor of net-neutrality rules in the article is Gigi Sohn, president and chief executive of Public Knowledge, a open-Internet advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

Should Congress Overturn the Net Neutrality Rules? The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2013. 

Excerpt:
"Internet service providers have produced rich innovations. AOL, for example, created much original content for subscribers within its 'walled garden' of the mid-1990s. When abundant rival sources of news and entertainment appeared, the walls melted away. Both of AOL's approaches were efficient adaptations to its environment at the time. The lack of regulation prevented lock-in, allowing AOL to adjust to customer preferences.

"The premise of net neutrality, alternatively, is that there is only one efficient business structure: ISPs should provide a 'dumb pipe.' This supposedly will give app developers and others maximum scope for innovation. If the ISPs are allowed to have their own apps, or to strike deals with content partners, the theory is they might favor their own products, deter competition and suppress the vibrant ecosystem of an 'open Internet.'"