“Above all else,” President Theodore Roosevelt admonished Congress in 1905, “we must strive to keep the highways of commerce open to all on equal terms.”
Roosevelt could not have imagined digital computers and fiber-optic cables. He was talking about railroads, the highways of commerce in his day.
But though the technology has changed, the principle TR expressed remains as essential as it was a century ago. We ignore it at our peril.
Until now, our digital highways of commerce have been open to all on equal terms. Media conglomerates and big-box retailers transmit information through the same pipes as bloggers, startups and boutiques. This principle of equality, known as net neutrality, has stimulated competition and spurred innovation since the Internet began.