Another Deregulation Debacle

Professor Barbara van Schewick's book Internet Architecture and Innovation, is mentioned in this New York Times editorial on net neutrality by Lawrence Lessig, founder of Stanford's Center for Internet and Society:

The word from Washington is that the White House is pressuring, or more diplomatically, “signaling” the F.C.C. to go slow on Barack Obama’s promise to protect “network neutrality.” The depressingly familiar reason why this might be so is that the White House has finally awoken to the huge political costs that this vital economic principle would incur. The less depressing, but also familiar reason is that senior economic policy types in the White House are continuing on their deregulatory crusade, facts notwithstanding.

That crusade was inexcusable when it came to the debacle on Wall Street. Even if economists hadn’t learned this, history had long taught the consequences of feeding a nontransparent financial market (as derivatives were) with government funds and guarantees. Willed obliviousness may have paid souls on Wall Street well, but it was a disaster for the rest of the economy.


As much as anything else, the economic success of the Internet comes from its architecture. The architecture, and the competitive forces it assures, is the only interesting thing at stake in this battle over “network neutrality.” And yet, the most senior economic advisers in the White House don’t seem to know what that means. They could, if they took the time. Barbara van Schewick’s extraordinary new book, "Internet Architecture and Innovation," is perhaps the best explication of this point so far for those who should be studying these hard, new policy questions.