Abstract - The Information Society 30(1)

Reconciling Political and Economic Goals in the Net Neutrality Debate

Johannes M. Bauer and Jonathan A. Obar

The net neutrality debate is one of several sites of struggles to adapt and redefine rights and obligations of players in the Internet-centric communications system. Its outcomes will shape the future of the Internet and influence the level and distribution of its benefits. We identify key values that drive the net neutrality discussion and examine the governance mechanisms proposed to achieve these objectives. We find that there is no single policy instrument that allows realization of the range of valued political and economic objectives simultaneously. Contrary to some of the claims advanced in the current debate, safeguarding multiple goals requires a combination of instruments that will likely involve government and non-government measures. Furthermore, promoting goals such as the freedom of speech, political participation, investment and innovation calls for complementary policies.


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