What Thinking About Antitrust Law Can Tell Us About Net Neutrality

Posted by Social Science Research Network

What Thinking About Antitrust Law Can Tell Us About Net Neutrality

By A. Douglas Melamed & Andrew Chang (Stanford University)

Abstract:     The goal of net neutrality regulation—to encourage flourishing and variety among edge providers—seems unquestionably desirable. Less clear, however, is whether net neutrality regulation is, on balance, desirable in light of alternative methods of preventing such harmful behavior by broadband providers. Net neutrality regulation is intended to prevent commercial conduct that might harm firms or exclude them altogether. The existing antitrust laws are also intended to prevent certain types of harm to (or exclusion of) firms, and those laws are the most obvious alternative to net neutrality regulation. A crucial step to understanding the implications of net neutrality regulation, therefore, is to ask what the Internet world would look like if we relied entirely on antitrust law, and to compare that world to one with net neutrality regulation.

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