Net Neutrality and the Law of Common Carriage

[Abstract] Peculiarly, net neutrality and highway trucking share a similar legal foundation: the law of common carriage. The question today is whether, and to what extent, the principles of common carriage should continue to inform net neutrality. Since 1980, the FCC has distinguished between basic telephone services and enhanced Internet-based data transmissions, and subjected the former to the stricter liability that is demanded of common carriage. This distinction broadly continues to this day. In the 2010 Comcast case, the FCC’s attempt to impose net neutrality on an ISP was struck down for want of common carriage obligations. A subsequent order was also vacated in 2014. In India, following Airtel’s recent proposal to charge for usage of free VoIP services, TRAI must consider important net neutrality questions for India.