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February 28, 2014

Five things you should know about the Netflix-Comcast deal

(Continued)

— 4. There are good public-interest reasons to pay attention to interconnection between companies.

Arrangements of technical architecture are also arrangements of power. Interconnection is a public interest issues because it provides the basic infrastructural foundation for the digital public sphere, because it promotes Internet growth and efficiency, because shared interconnection points can serve as concentrated sites for government censorship and surveillance, and because peering disputes can result in outages. For all of these reasons, more (not less) distributed and decentralized interconnection is a good thing. With existing antitrust law in mind, it is also not realistic to introduce government regulations mandating who can connect to whom, how and under what terms.

 5. Interconnection needs more transparency and best practices.

What would be useful, however, and what might have pre-empted current confusion about interconnection, is network operator transparency about the terms of interconnection agreements and a set of industry best practices for these agreements. Similar to transparency reports for content intermediaries, this would help bring the hidden world of Internet infrastructure into the light.

Maybe we can read these reports while watching new Netflix episodes of "Orange Is the New Black."

 

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