The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.
Architecture and Public Policy
CIS explores how changes in the architecture of computer networks affect the economic environment for innovation and competition on the Internet, and how the law should react to those changes. This work has lead us to analyze the issue of network neutrality, perhaps the Internet's most debated policy issue, which concerns Internet user's ability to access the content and software of their choice without interference from network providers.
Not only does this let AT&T give its own services an unfair advantage in the market, the approach lets deep pocketed companies pay AT&T to be exempt from usage caps. Consumer groups say this creates an unfair marketplace where bigger, wealthier companies can buy an advantage over their smaller, cash-strapped competitors—once AT&T gets its cut.
Stanford University professor Barbara van Schewick, who has long advocated for net neutrality, also said AT&T's elimination of HBO Max zero-rating is actually a good thing for consumers. "This is a win for an open and free internet, including for competing video services and internet users," she wrote. "People should be free to choose which videos they want to watch — whether that’s Netflix, Twitch or their local church’s Sunday service, without the company they pay to get online trying to influence their choices."
In a blog post, AT&T said California’s new net neutrality law bans “sponsored data” services, which let the company pay for the data usage of customers who also subscribed to AT&T’s streaming platform.AT&T, which developed HBO Max after buying Time Warner for $85 billion in 2018, had used sponsored data to let wireless customers stream AT&T-owned video services without it counting against their data limits. The company said the new law affects customers in states beyond California “given that the internet does not recognize state borders.”