Net Neutrality and Regulation of the Internet: Implications for the United States and the Future of the Global Network

Council on Foreign Relations
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
4:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m. -- Light reception
5:00 p.m.–6:30 p.m. -- Discussion


  • Scott Malcomson, Visiting Media Fellow, Carnegie Corporation; Author, Splinternet: How Geopolitics and Commerce are Fragmenting the World Wide Web
  • Robert M. McDowell, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP; Former Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

Gordon M. Goldstein, Senior Adjunct Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Is Title II a necessary legal instrument to ensure that the goals of “Net Neutrality” are achieved? Or do Internet Service Providers in the United States already adhere to the principle of “non-discrimination,” treating Web traffic equally without offering faster speeds to favored content providers to the disadvantage of their competitors? Will Title II spur innovation in next generation broadband networks? Or will it inhibit capital expenditure and investment in one of the most dynamic and globally competitive sectors of the U.S. economy?

We will also examine the global dimensions of Internet regulation. What are the implications of the export of Net Neutrality rules to the developing world? Internet giants like Facebook and Google have recently attempted to launch so-called “zero-rating” connections in partnership with mobile phone carriers to provide free Web access to new users in countries with comparatively lower levels of Internet penetration, such as India, Egypt and Chile. Those programs have encountered varied forms of opposition from national regulators citing Net Neutrality considerations. Are their concerns valid? Finally, what is the role of Internet regulation in accelerating what some analysts see as the increasing fragmentation of the global network as a result of data localization laws, content restrictions and overt censorship? Is the paradigm of the free and open Internet of the past 20 years slipping away?