Net Neutrality: Myths and Facts

Document Date: September 22, 2006

Myth: Net Neutrality would, for the first time, regulate the Internet.
FACT: Massive innovation on the Internet since its creation occurred under pre-2005 Net Neutrality protection. Until last year’s Supreme Court Brand X decision, telephone and cable based Internet operators were required to make Internet service “available on nondiscriminatory terms and conditions to all comers.” Net Neutrality simply restores long-standing prior law.

MYTH: Net Neutrality is a solution in search of a problem.
FACT: There are numerous examples of network providers engaging in content or user discrimination that will only grow without Net Neutrality. This year, Time Warner’s AOL blocked all emails that mentioned, an advocacy campaign opposing AOL’s pay-to-send e-mail scheme. Similarly, BellSouth has blocked its customers’ access to in Tennessee and Florida. Net discrimination is real and happening every day.

MYTH: Net Neutrality will stifle innovation on the Internet.
FACT: Today’s vibrant Internet economy resulted from Net Neutrality protection during the Internet’s infancy. Net Neutrality spurred innovation and commerce by preventing large companies from leveraging market power to stifle competition from smaller, dynamic web innovators.

MYTH: Network operators are protecting consumers.
FACT: Like any monopoly or oligopoly, network operators want to maximize their profits and minimize competition at the consumer’s expense. Network providers opposed to Net Neutrality such as AT&T, BellSouth, Comcast, Sprint, Time Warner, and Verizon have already shown they cannot be trusted to self-regulate in the interest of consumers in either content or cost.

MYTH: Net Neutrality will cause broadband networks to be abandoned.
FACT: Net Neutrality promotes broadband development by increasing Internet services and applications that generate new consumer demand. The increased demand for broadband resulting from Net Neutrality will lead to more investment in the next generation broadband networks, including the continued growth of fiber-optic cable.

MYTH: Yahoo and Google get a “free ride” from network operators.
FACT: These Internet companies pay much more than the average web operator because their sites use greater bandwidth from host sites than other operators. There is nothing wrong with bandwidth purchasing plans based upon usage. Net Neutrality simply ensures that network operators cannot play favorites with their own services.

MYTH: Net Neutrality interferes with network management.
FACT: There is no evidence that this occurred prior to last year, when Net Neutrality was protected. Telephone companies have been able to regulate and manage their networks for years under “common carrier” regulations much more stringent than those proposed by Net Neutrality.

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.