Archive for publications, 2019

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[Commlist] New book: Paradoxes of Network Neutralities

Tue Nov 05 16:24:50 GMT 2019

Russell Newman's book, “The Paradoxes of Network Neutralities,” is now out and available from MIT Press as part of its Information Policy series. The book tracks the history of recent movements and debates surrounding broadband nondiscrimination policy in the US, from efforts seeking open access in the 1990s to the Restoring Internet Freedom order and its aftermath. However, it goes further: it also addresses the role of these debates in nurturing what has popularly become known as 'surveillance capitalism' and their connections - direct and ambivalent alike - with the neoliberal project, carrying deep implications for future reform efforts.



Official Description:

Media reform activists rejoiced in 2015 when the FCC codified network neutrality, approving a set of Open Internet rules that prohibited providers from favoring some content and applications over others—only to have their hopes dashed two years later when the agency reversed itself. In this book, Russell Newman offers a unique perspective on these events, arguing that the movement for network neutrality was of a piece with its neoliberal environment rather than counter to it; perversely, it served to solidify the continued existence of a commercially dominant internet and even emergent modes of surveillance and platform capitalism. Going beyond the usual policy narrative of open versus closed networks, or public interest versus corporate power, Newman uses network neutrality as a lens through which to examine the ways that neoliberalism renews and reconstitutes itself, the limits of particular forms of activism, and the shaping of future regulatory processes and policies.

Newman explores the debate's roots in the 1990s movement for open access, the transition to network neutrality battles in the 2000s, and the terms in which these battles were fought. By 2017, the debate had become unmoored from its own origins, and an emerging struggle against “neoliberal sincerity” points to a need to rethink activism surrounding media policy reform itself.


"Newman's powerful, deeply researched book about the seventeen-year-old net neutrality fight puts the focus where it belongs—on communications policy advocates who won a stunning victory in 2015, only to lose it in 2017. His critique of the advocates' strategies provides a roadmap for critical battles yet to come." - Gigi B. Sohn, Distinguished Fellow, Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law and Policy; counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

"The fight for net neutrality is one of the most important policy struggles facing the U.S. today. By situating it within a long history of political and intellectual contestation, Newman masterfully theorizes and clarifies this vital issue. Engagingly written, deeply researched, and provocatively argued, this book is essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of democracy." - Victor Pickard, coauthor of After Net Neutrality: A New Deal for the Digital Age

"The successes and failures of net neutrality represent the most dramatic achievement of progressive action in U.S. telecommunications policy since the 1960s. This book is the essential guide. Newman rises above his activist roots, providing a magisterial scholarly history of the struggles over net neutrality, rich in both empirical detail and incisive theoretical insights, well attuned to the many ironies of the story." - Thomas Streeter, Professor, Western University, Ontario; author of The Net Effect: Romanticism, Capitalism, and the Internet

"In The Paradoxes of Network Neutralities, Newman offers a capacious and nuanced account, placing present and recent contestations around net neutrality within a critical interpretive context. With a sympathetic yet shrewd eye, he demonstrates how market framings have constrained media reform efforts. Scholars, activists, and policymakers will all benefit from Newman's insight into the long-standing struggle over telecommunications rights in a democracy." - Christina Dunbar-Hester, faculty member, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California; author of Hacking Diversity: The Politics of Inclusion in Open Technology Cultures and Low Power to the People: Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism

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