Would Internet users be better off or worse off if ISPs (Internet Service Providers) were required to make public their contracts for interconnecting their networks?
September 10 - 12, 2014
Washington, D.C., USA
This might sound like an overly esoteric issue, but it is one that is attracting attention at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and has implications for Internet users around the world. PURC director Mark Jamison discussed this topic at the workshop "Regulating the Evolving Broadband Ecosystem" sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, the University of Nebraska Law School, and the FCC, September 10-12, 2014. Commenting on a paper prepared by Daniel Lyons of the Boston College Law School, Dr. Jamison explained that public disclosure of these contracts is likely to be little value to customers and may harm them. Why? The contracts number in the thousands, making public disclosure useless to anyone who isn’t deeply involved in the details of how they work. That means that the ISPs would be the main consumers of information, which could lead to tacit or even actual collusion. Also, public revelation of the contracts would limit some ISPs’ abilities to profit from innovation, which would necessarily slow the dynamic changes that have long characterized the Internet. Dr. Jamison’s comments were largely in line with the Dr. Lyons’s conclusions.