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Internet Age Needs Clear Regulation, Computer Law Expert Says

By Cornell ­niversity

April 23, 2010

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Tracy Mitrano, Cornell University's director of IT Policy and its director of Computer Policy and Law Programs, says the recent U.S. Federal Appeals Court decision in Comcast v. Federal Communication Commission and the FCC's efforts to enforce "network neutrality" on Internet providers points to a need for clear regulatory authority.

"The Internet is not the medium of the future; it is the driver of economies, information and culture around the world today," Mitrano says. "Historians will look upon this moment in much the same light as the printing press: a reflection and engine of powerful social and political change.

"The D.C. Federal Appeals Court decision in Comcast v. Federal Communication Commission signals the need for clear exercise of regulatory authority over a wide range of issues that involve the Internet, from broadband deployment to intellectual property," Mitrano says.

"Communication and transportation developments have shaped our own recent history, from railroads to the radio," she continues. "The administrative agencies that emerged from those developments addressed inefficiencies and excesses of the free market imperfectly, but at least with an eye toward the general welfare of the country.

"We face similar challenges today. The United States cannot afford either to ignore broader policy related to the Internet or to allow it to become bogged down in litigation about arcane legal issues. The Internet is more than just a technology; it is a world historical phenomenon that incorporates virtually every aspect of our society and the globe. It is time for our elected officials to have an informed, robust discussion about comprehensive Internet governance."


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