Sept. 19, 2022


spetaMILWAUKEE — James B. Speta, Elizabeth Froehling Horner Professor of Law at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, will deliver Marquette University Law School’s annual Boden Lecture, “Can common-carrier principles make for a better internet?” on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 4:30 p.m. in the Lubar Center at Eckstein Hall.

Proposals abound to “reform” the internet. Some of these speak directly to concerns that Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms engage in bias and discrimination in choosing among sources, users, news feeds, and results. Consensus is elusive on defining that bias and many of the proposed reforms almost certainly would violate the First Amendment. Is it possible to look to the law’s past for a path forward? America’s original paradigm of regulation—developed for railroads, telephone companies, and other “common carriers”—successfully prohibited a provider’s discrimination among users.

Speta’s lecture will describe how policymakers might adapt and adopt parts of this most traditional form of regulation to address the most modern of policy problems: how to make the internet platform ecosystem more robust and diverse, ensuring (for just one example) that alternative platforms such as Parler would not be thwarted. It will also consider whether existing law and policy are capable of the judiciousness that this approach would require.

Speta has served on the law faculty at Northwestern University since 1998 and has held several administrative posts, including interim dean in the 2020–21 year. His research interests encompass telecommunications and internet policy, antitrust, administrative law, and market organization, and his publications include the textbook “Internet and Telecommunications Regulation.” His teaching has extended to programs with Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and McCormick School of Engineering. A graduate of University of Michigan Law School, where he served as editor-in-chief of the law review, he clerked for Judge Harry T. Edwards on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and is an experienced practitioner in appellate, telecommunications, and antitrust law.

The annual Boden Lecture remembers the late Robert F. Boden, dean of Marquette Law School from 1965 to 1984.

Tickets are no longer available for this lecture. Members of the media who are interested in attending should contact Chris Stolarski, associate director of university communication, at [email protected]


About Christopher Stolarski

Christopher Stolarski

Chris is an associate director of university communication in the Office of Marketing and Communication. Contact Chris at (414) 288-1988 or [email protected]