Assignment 10 – Internet Access

Assignment due Tuesday, 4/16 at 8 pm posted on bSpace.

In her recent book Captive Audience, the legal scholar Susan Crawford argues that broadband access in America has been hampered by the oligopoly/monopoly of the cable companies. As a result, she says, Americans pay more for slower access than people in other parts of the world, any many people still have no access at all. She concludes that broadband access should be regulated on the model of a public utility such as electric power.

Some have argued that Crawford is wrong: broadband access is not like a public utility, government regulation would be highly costly strangle service and innovation, and things aren’t as bad as Crawford says they are.

Read some material on both sides (see below), and then decide whether, on the whole, you think more government regulation of broadband access is a good or bad idea. Is it appropriate to compare broadband to a public utility? Would deregulation be better solution? Summarize your view in 3 points, in a total of no more than 350 words.

Once the assignments are in, we’re going to ask the class to participate in an in-class debate, calling on a few people to present each side, then voting Oxford debate style.  At the top of your assignment, indicate whether you want to opt out from presenting). No extra points, but the presiding spirit of class participation will be hovering close by.

You can find the introduction to Crawford’s book here: click “Look Inside” or send yourself a sample at your Kindle, ipad, etc.

Here’s NY Times opinion piece by Crawford called “How to get America Online“.

For background on cable regulation, see Ch 2 of her book here (see Chapter II, pp. 35-63 (some pages missing).

Time magazine gives a mostly positive review of Crawford here

Here are two largely critical reviews of Crawford’s book: