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Verizon Draws Fire For Limiting Subscribers’ Cheap Data Relays

Publication Date: 
August 10, 2011
Source: 
Bloomberg Government
Author: 
Todd Shields

Professor Barbara van Schewick spoke with Todd Shields of Bloomberg Government on a complaint Verizon is facing which accuses the company of violating U.S. rules on open airwaves and how its outcome will be "far-reaching" on numerous businesses, innovators, and Internet users.

Verizon Wireless is drawing fire from consumer groups for limiting its subscribers’ ability to relay Web content cheaply from smartphones to laptop computers.

The restrictions violate U.S. rules on open airwaves that Verizon accepted when it won a spectrum auction in 2008, according to a complaint filed in June with the Federal Communications Commission by Free Press, a Washington-based policy group that promotes wide access to communications.

...

The outcome of the complaint “will have a far-reaching impact on many businesses, innovators, and users in the Internet ecosystem,” Barbara van Schewick, an associate professor of law at Stanford Law School, said in a June 30 filing at the FCC.

Innovation may be harmed if regulators let network providers “pick winners and losers online -- whether by actively blocking particular applications or simply by making them more difficult to use,” van Schewick said.