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Scholar explains why T-Mobile’s Binge On is ‘likely illegal’

Published Jan 29th, 2016 8:40PM EST
Is T-Mobile Binge On Illegal
Image: Asa Mathat | Re/code

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There’s no doubt that Binge On has been the most controversial initiative that T-Mobile has taken on so far, but could it actually violate the law? In a new paper (PDF), Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick makes the case that Binge On is “likely illegal” because it “violates key net neutrality principles that the Open Internet rules are designed to protect and creates harms to Internet openness that the general conduct rule is meant to prevent.”

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In her paper, Schewick makes some of the same arguments that I’ve made when criticizing Binge On. Basically, she notes that even if T-Mobile isn’t charging money to companies in exchange for having their data zero rated, it’s still erecting an artificial barrier to their potential success. She also argues that the technical requirements to qualify for Binge On aren’t as easy as T-Mobile would have us believe.

“Binge On allows some providers to join easily and creates lasting barriers for others, especially small players, non-commercial providers, and start-ups,” she writes, while also arguing that programs like Binge On threaten to end the era of “innovation without permission.”

She also believes that T-Mobile’s new initiative may seem good for consumers at first, but in the long run it will restrict choice and set a bad precedent for how carriers interact with Internet companies.

You can check out her full argument at this link.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.

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