Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Network Neutrality and John Rawls

Amit M. Schejter, Pennsylvania State University, and Moran Yemini have published "Justice, and Only Justice, You Shall Pursue: Network Neutrality, the First Amendment, and John Rawls' Theory of Justice," in a forthcoming issue of the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review. Here is the abstract.

Analyzing policies that guided the regulation of electronic communication technologies over their relatively short history, allows to identify a pattern by which these technologies were viewed through a metaphor of scarcity, which called for solutions based on a theory of utility, maximizing the common national good at the expense of some personal freedoms. Technologies of the 21st century – digital broadcasting, wireless-mobile telephony and above all the global technology of the Internet – make possible the introduction of a new metaphor, one of abundance, and as such require a new theory of regulation in the public interest, with a wider, global, public in mind. Theories of utility led to policies in which the few and fortunate were awarded longer and longer-term control of the little available, having their interests guarded through the control of the voices of the many (in the name of the “common good”). The opportunity provided by the promise of abundance, has advanced so far the development of similar policies; however this study argues that a new theory is required, which will allow for the wealth of channels and resources to offer an opportunity for an egalitarian and participatory form of their utilization by employing a theory based on John Rawls' theory of distributive justice, which works to redress past harms, while proposing a more equitable distribution of the new available resources, and in a global setting. The policy debate surrounding “network neutrality” serves as the central case study for the promotion of such a theory.

Download the entire article here from SSRN.

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