Net Neutrality and the Least Unacceptable Alternative

The internets (now apparently using the plural isn’t as cute and clever as it used to be) are abuzz (pun semi-intended) with talk over Google and Verizon’s Joint Proposal for an Open Internet.

I don’t profess to be an expert in Net Neutrality, other than a pretty strong feeling that I am for it, and that it is good for the consumer.  One thing I am an expert in, however, is negotiation.  I get invited all over the country to speak on negotiation strategy.

image In negotiation strategy, there is the concept of “least acceptable alternative.”  The idea is that if you know you aren’t going to get what you really want, you have to seek something you can live with.  For example, if I want to go to a ballgame, but it’s our anniversary and my wife wants to go to the ballet, I should reevaluate my goals and try to end up at a concert.  It’s not the ballgame, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the ballet.

When things are really stacked against you, the least acceptable alternative morphs into the least unacceptable alternative.  I hate all of the alternatives, but I hate this one less than the others.

The question we should be asking about this policy and the roadmap it contemplates is not if it is exactly what we, the consumers, want.  It’s clearly not.  The question is if the proposed plan is the least unacceptable alternative, and if not for whose advantage was the true least unacceptable alternative abandoned.

Figure that out, and we’ll know how all this is shaping up.