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The Illusion of Net Neutrality: Political Alarmism, Regulatory Creep and the Real Threat to Internet Freedom (Hoover Institution Press Publication) Hardcover – May 1, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0817915940 ISBN-10: 081791594X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Hoover Institution Press Publication (Book 633)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hoover Institution Press; 1st edition (May 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081791594X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817915940
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,816,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In the lexicon of inventions, the Internet is a supernova. In less than two decades, it has transformed the world, changing the way that societies communicate, gather information, and buy and sell goods and services. From something as mundane as finding a long-lost high school classmate to something as momentous as overthrowing a brutal dictatorship, the Internet has fostered sweeping societal change. Its potential is endless.

As an open, unregulated enterprise, the Internet has grown and continues to expand and change at an unprecedented pace, in large part, because it hasn’t been burdened by suffocating regulations or struggles for control. But its future robust growth is anything but assured. The Zelnicks are passionate proponents of letting the Internet thrive and evolve in the same unregulated manner as it has to become what it is today. They advocate that the Internet remain free of Federal Communication Commission (FCC) regulations and that the free play of market forces remain the Internet’s modus operandi. The Zelnicks maintain that, if the US government begins imposing restrictions, the rest of the free world will follow its lead.

The many forces currently at play could ruin the Internet as we know it, but the issue is complex. Highly visible individuals and groups from both the private and the public sectors and from both sides of the political ideological divide are advocating that the FCC bring the Internet under its regulatory wing. Supporters of an unregulated Internet are certain that the Internet needs to remain free of regulatory restraints so as to continue its remarkable evolution. In 2002, an FCC ruling stated that Internet access was an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service” and thus not subject to FCC oversight. But outside an internal pressure is building to “rein the Internet in.” The authors offer a clear, compelling argument for why this must not happen.

About the Author

Bob Zelnick is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of national and international affairs at Boston University, and, as a former longtime ABC News correspondent, a frequent television analyst. Eva Zelnick specializes in public policy and Internet-related issues and is a cum laude graduate of the University of Virginia and Boston University’s School of Law.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roslyn Layton on June 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Bob Zelnick is a seasoned journalist whose beat was Washington, Russia and Israel. With the help of his district attorney daughter, he turns his attention to the raging political debate of net neutrality and the actors and context for this proposed policy. In assiduous detail, they reveal the landscape for the discussion: the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC), the history of the internet, the net neutrality lobby, spectrum reform, and antitrust.

The FCC is described as a confused agency with a lack of clear congressional mandate, hunger for power and political susceptibility. The key progenitors of net neutrality are exposed as masterminds with an end game to wrest power from the media and telecommunications industries. The book recapitulates the history and engineering of the ARPANET, reminding that the the U.S. military wanted an independent packet-switched network so it could avoid relying on AT&T's circuitry.

The Zelnicks observe that with the first web browser, in which a human could manipulate the interface to the internet, net neutrality was over, if it ever had existed. They point out a number of contradictions with net neutrality corporate supporters such as Google, with a pay for performance revenue model that is fully at odds with neutrality. They concludes that spectrum reform and the antitrust legislation delivered by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are better suited to address the purported problems that net neutrality claims to address, namely concerns about mobile networks and oligopoly amongst carriers.
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Format: Hardcover
The Father/Daughter duo of Bob and Eva Zelnick has sought to provide an introspective look into the issue of net neutrality to expose the realities associated with the policy. The co-authors carry with them knowledge from the journalism industry and law practice respectively. This experience has been channeled into the realm of net neutrality and revealed some startling truths.

The overall claim in this book is that the way in which net neutrality is observed by its main proponents is in fact incorrect and misguided. Policies such as this are warned against as, according to the authors, they will “turn the Net into a political grab bag.” Essentially backers of net neutrality are just looking to grab their piece of the “regulated” pie.

Through focusing on the negative aspects of net neutrality, the Zelnicks provide their own solution for how the internet should be kept in check. An emphasis is placed upon the use of the free market and antitrust law. The authors state, “the industry has thrived, and will continue to thrive, when left to the free play of market forces and subject only to antitrust enforcement.” This solution is prominent throughout the book and is offered as a replacement for overbearing regulation.

Overall, an importance is placed on the continuing conversation. A set of ideas is given not as a call to action but as a hope for more constructive policy in the future. As a recent entrant into the net neutrality debate I found this book particularly useful in offering a different outlook on the situation as a whole.
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