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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Of chiefs and Indians - Ofcom on net neutrality

First, news of former Ofcom CEO and behavioural advertising fan, Stephen Carter, a former minister and peer of the realm - he has joined a huge Deep Packet Inspection company Lucent-Alcatel, which includes Bell Labs and much of the good French stuff, and little toyboxes such as this, as chief lobbyist ("newly created position of Chief Marketing, Strategy; Communication Officer"). Perhaps even head of anti-net neutrality?
Second, the current incumbent (subject to the next General Election where Murdoch has him in his sights, though nothing is certain in these grubby political fights), has made his most detailed speech about net neutrality, with some interesting stuff about net neutrality and some rather hackneyed stuff about the US and European legislators.
First, the good stuff, which ends the speech:

"So as we move into implementation of the Framework's requirements we now need to consider whether a general obligation to publish traffic management policies will be sufficient, and will accord with how people actually make choices in the marketplace.
Whether and to what extent the emerging discipline of behavioural economics provides a basis for solid regulatory practice is not yet clear, but it is obviously an area that we should explore if we are serious about ensuring that consumer choice remains central to the way we address these issues.
The role of information is at the heart of this issue, and we see this in the drafting of the Framework legislation. And even if consumers have access to transparent information, they need to understand how traffic management practices will affect their day-to-day experience of a service and be able to assess which product best meets their needs. This may require substantial effort and time, particularly if the information provided about traffic management practices is fairly technical.
The behavioural economics literature highlights further reasons why consumers may find it difficult to use information to compare products effectively. In particular, studies have shown that consumers can find it difficult to take into account fully different aspects of products when making a decision. For example, in an experiment on purchases made on eBay, researchers found that participants tended to ignore shipping costs, even when they were clearly displayed. This meant that was little pressure on sellers to keep shipping costs down.
This is an example of the ‘limited attention' bias. In this context, what is needed is for the industry to embrace the spirit as well as the letter of the new requirements for transparency and explanation."
I'll add a separate blog post on the other bits...

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