Mobile Content Neutrality

Session Type: Working group

Session Category: Policy

Session Leader: Julie Adler, Elliott Siebers, Philip Weiss & Jonathan Askin (Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy Clinic)

Other Participants:David Carter (Arent Fox), Amanda Antico-Majkowski (Mobile Internet Content Coalition) Nicholas Merrill (Calyx Institute)

Day: Sunday
Time: 2:00—3:30
Room: WA10

Session notes

Description

The number of Americans who use mobile devices to watch online video is growing at an exponential rate, with many low-income individuals especially reliant on the mobile Internet. Earlier this year, MetroPCS – a carrier that predominantly serves low-income communities – announced changes to its mobile broadband service plans that would selectively block or cap the use of some Internet content, including online video, for the cheapest plans. For example, users of the base MetroPCS plan receive access to YouTube but not alternative platforms like Vimeo, and they are denied access to services like Skype and Netflix.

With companies like MetroPCS continuing to act as an unregulated gatekeeper (the FCC’s net neutrality rules, though not yet in effect, would not clearly apply to the mobile web), Internet innovation and access will be stifled. Entrepreneurial video platforms will reach fewer users and low-income users will increasingly find themselves on the restricted side of the digital divide.

Outcome

The mobile content neutrality working group will explore these issues and work toward tangible solutions. The group will develop a best practices template for mobile carriers, discuss the feasibility of a non-profit mobile carrier, and begin an ongoing process of documenting incidents of mobile content discrimination – affecting both entrepreneurs and consumers — to signal to policymakers that they must regulate discriminatory mobile carrier practices in order to foster innovation and bridge the digital divide in the twenty-first century.