The inimitable Susan Crawford warns us against Net regulation tunnel vision. Overreaction to perceived problems can open the door to harms worse than the original problems — the “solutions” can bite back. If, for example, we want to regulate Internet providers to stop them from blocking Voice-Over-IP, does that mean we have also acknowledged the power to regulate them for other ends, such as to demand that they enable wiretapping? How rapidly does anti-spyware legislation become full-blown software regulation? Instead of asking government to step in with small-fix regulations, we should take a bigger-picture view, looking for how we can re-open the network to resist these threats on our own.
One limited place we might ask for government help is antitrust — breaking up monopoly control of connectivity resources lets us solve many problems by our own choices by helping ensure the market provides those choices. I’m not sure I share Susan’s optimism — bad regulation comes at us from too many sources and could stop many of our “route-around” opportunities — but I do think that if we disregard her advice, the situation looks even worse.