A Dead End for End-to-End? A Review Essay of Barbara van Schewick’s Internet Architecture and Innovation
12 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2011 Last revised: 24 Dec 2013
Date Written: October 13, 2011
Amidst much controversy, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its landmark “network neutrality” order last December. This regulation prohibits Internet service providers, such as Verizon or Comcast, from discriminating in favor of traffic or content which they own or with which they are affiliated. Professor Barbara van Schewick’s recently published book, Internet Architecture and Innovation, could not be timelier. Employing a variety of economic and technical arguments, van Schewick defends the type of regulation the FCC passed as necessary to preserve the Internet’s potential for innovation.
My central critique of Internet Architecture is its deployment of economic theories on one side of a highly politicized debate, rather than using economic analysis to elevate that debate. Van Schewick relies on an impressive array of economic approaches but fails to acknowledge their ambiguity. Her argument strings together a succession of questionable economic generalizations, thereby greatly weakening her conclusions.
Van Schewick is not alone in using economics in this way. Too many law professors rely on theoretical models but ignore their limiting assumptions, failing to sort through the massive ambiguity inherent in their application. A close examination of van Schewick’s argument, therefore, leads to general recommendations for legal interdisciplinary research method.
Keywords: Network regulation, law and economics, Federal Communications Commission
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation