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Academics Urge FTC to Endorse Case-by-Case Approach on Net Neutrality Concerns PDF Print E-mail

The FCC is considering a new Open Internet Order that could harm consumers by invoking Title II and banning paid prioritization. While the vast majority of  business arrangements between Internet and edge providers are pro-consumer, it is possible that a few harmful agreements may arise. But these cases should be judged on their merits. Instead, the FCC stands ready to adopt a proposal that would ban paid priority altogether, even though many such agreements would benefit consumers.

Today, 32 academics and scholars with expertise in law, business, economics, and public policy sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) — the nation’s chief agency for competition advocacy — urging it to caution the FCC against Title II and a blanket ban on paid prioritization.

“It’s sadly ironic that those advocating rigid net neutrality rules talk about permissionless innovation, yet want to ban paid prioritization — a type of commercial agreement that essentially doesn’t even exist yet,”  said Geoffrey Manne, Executive Director of the International Center for Law & Economics, which organized the letter. “What has really kept the Internet ‘free’ and ‘open’ has been focusing government on demonstrated problems, while remaining humble enough to admit that regulators don’t know what the future might, or should, look like. Net neutrality concerns over paid prioritization arrangements should be addressed if and when such deals actually occur—and only if they result in actual harm. The FTC should urge the FCC to adopt a case-by-case approach (like antitrust’s rule of reason) guided by economics, not hysterics and political pressure.”

The letter calls on the FTC to endorse such an approach and to urge the FCC to adopt it in any Open Internet rules the Commission may issue. The FTC regularly files comments with other government bodies as part of its competition advocacy program, and we believe this contentious issue begs for its expert guidance.

Read the full letter here.

About ICLE PDF Print E-mail

ICLE is a global think tank aimed at building an international network of scholars and institutions devoted to methodologies and research agendas supportive of the regulatory underpinnings that enable businesses to flourish. We develop intellectual work in specific policy areas to build a strong, international foundation for rigorous policy work in the long run.

The overarching objective of our center is to create the academic underpinnings for a regulatory environment that ensures the protection of property rights from inefficient interference by government agencies and private parties in high priority markets. The protection of property rights provides the basis for a competitive and innovative market environment in which business and society more generally can thrive. Optimal protection of property rights entails far more than sound intellectual property protection (although it certainly entails that); it also forms the basis for restrained government intervention into business practices, including through antitrust enforcement, consumer protection regulation, trade restrictions, government procurement policies and communications regulations, among many others.

The central activity of the center is to facilitate and organize the creation of a new network, international in scope, of economically-oriented research and outreach centers that may be able to move the academic and policy debates forward significantly in the years ahead.

The ICLE's work is centered around the following principles:

  • A commitment to the application of economic theory, particularly price theory, law and economics and new institutional economics, to regulatory problems

  • A commitment to empirical scholarship and applications of economic theory with real world relevance

  • The use of formal mathematical modeling exclusively as a means to furthering our knowledge about the world, rather than an ends in its own right

  • A dedication to understanding both the role of the law and institutions in facilitating competition as well as the consequences of legal rules

  • A commitment to promoting an international discourse on issues of regulatory policy in the increasingly global regulatory environment


The core mission of the ICLE is the creation, support and development of policy-relevant law and economics research around the world.

The ICLE will:

  • Build an integrated international network of scholars and institutions working on a range of issues in law and economics in an effort to expand the academic influence of the existing, mainly-US-based, community

  • Establish and deepen the ties between these institutions and the policy community through public outreach effort

  • Engage in specific efforts to expand the number of law and economics scholars in the academy

  • Engage in specific efforts to expand the scope of the issues influenced by the center’s methodologies

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