Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Publication Citation

64 Federal Communications Law Journal 661 (2012)


Amidst much controversy, the FCC released its landmark "network neutrality" order in December 2010. This regulation prohibits Internet service providers, such as Verizon or Comcast, from discriminating in favor of traffic or content that they own or with which they are affiliated. Professor Barbara van Schewick's recently published book, Internet Architecture and Innovation, could not be timelier. Employing a variety of economic and technical arguments, van Schewick defends the type of regulation the FCC passed as necessary to preserve the Internet's potential for innovation. My central critique of Internet Architecture is its deployment of economic theories on one side of a highly politicized debate, rather than using economic analysis to elevate that debate. Van Schewick relies on an impressive array of economic approaches but fails to acknowledge their ambiguity. Her argument strings together a succession of questionable economic generalizations, thereby greatly weakening her conclusions. Van Schewick is not alone in using economics in this way. Too many law professors rely on theoretical models but ignore their limiting assumptions, failing to sort through the massive ambiguity inherent in their application. A close examination of van Schewick's argument, therefore, leads to general recommendations for legal interdisciplinary research methodology.