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May 19, 2014

Wait--I Thought "Permissionless Innovation" Was a Thing?

 
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There has been a lot of rhetoric around the phrase "permissionless innovation" in the last couple of years. I'm not myself comfortable with the phrase, because I think a hallmark of civilization is respect for the property of others, and thus the West has developed an entire permission-based legal culture around property rights.

But others ARE enamored of the idea of permissionless innovation, especially the Internet and tech community.

That's why I am struck in reading through FCC Chairman Wheeler's new 100 page net neutrality NPRM document. Apparently, one of the many things net neutrality means is permissionless innovation for edge companies but NOT for network providers.

Because network providers are going to need permission for a whole lot of things they do. Any new thing they want to try with regard to their business model is going to be subject to some absurd and undefined "commercially reasonable" standard.

How do we determine whether a practice is "commercially reasonable?" Apparently permission will be required of the FCC.

So I will take great joy in the next few months in pointing out they hypocrisy of net neutrality proponents who think permissionless innovation is a virtue—just apparently not for broadband companies.

'Cause it's not as if we want rapid innovation in broadband networks. No, of course not. That would be silly.




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