The recent White House announcement on net neutrality offers an interesting paradox. On the one hand, the president believes that the currently unregulated Internet “(m)ore than any other invention of our time…has unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago.” These innovations include “digital devices, apps, and platforms that fuel growth and expand opportunity.” On the other hand, the president is adamant that “there should be no gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services.” He can’t have it both ways. Aside from the fact that the Internet has never been neutral – e.g., larger content providers are able to afford transport and delivery services that their smaller rivals cannot – evidence is mounting that customers prefer service with gatekeepers and that gatekeepers are a primary source of innovation. The White House’s disparaged gatekeepers are Internet Service Providers (ISPs), those broadband providers who some believe seek to limit the value of their services by restricting what customers can do on the web.
Read “In praise of gatekeepers: The growth of apps and decline of the web” on AEI.