John Naughton: We need to be pragmatic about the principle of net neutrality

Attempts by content providers such as Comcast to charge for fast-lane delivery must be resisted but data transmission needs to adapt to changes in technology

The composer and aesthete Lord Berners was a famous eccentric who hated sharing railway compartments with strangers and developed a sure-fire way of ensuring that he travelled alone. He would stand at the door of his chosen compartment, maniacally beckoning people in. This being England, no one ever entered.

Nowadays, the same effect may be achieved by telling people that you wish to engage them in a discussion about net neutrality. You get the glassy smile, the sideways glance checking the location of the nearest exit, the sudden remembering of things that have to be done at that very moment, and all the other evasive tactics deployed by those who find themselves in the presence of a madman.

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