University of Pittsburgh
February 19, 2007

Pitt to Hold Debate on "Network Neutrality" Feb. 23

Expert advocates from Washington, D.C., will team up with Pitt student debaters
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Will the elimination of "net neutrality" lead to higher-quality services, as proponents claim, or will restrictions lead to service providers blocking the competition? Corporate heavyweights are lined up on both sides of the issue, with Google and Yahoo! advocating the status quo, while Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T are pursuing the right to filter and prioritize their customers' Internet traffic.

Experts from both sides of the debate, which has attracted the attention of the U.S. Congress, will join with the University of Pittsburgh's William Pitt Debating Union (WPDU) in a debate titled "Should Congress Guarantee Net Neutrality?" from 2 to 3 p.m. Feb. 23, Room 2400, Sennott Square Building, corner of Forbes Avenue and South Bouquet Street, Oakland. The debate is free and open to the public.

Biographical information of the participants follows:

Pro-net neutrality advocate Art Brodsky is the communications director of Public Knowledge, a Washington, D.C.-based group of lawyers, technologists, lobbyists, academics, and activists dedicated to fortifying and defending a vibrant information commons. A freelance writer, he also has worked for Communications Daily and covered the Congressional passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and telephone regulation at the Federal Communications Commission. Brodsky earned the B.A. degree in government and politics at the University of Maryland and the M.A. degree in journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Representing the con side of the issue is Hal J. Singer, president of Criterion Economics, a consulting firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge, Mass., that provides advice on strategic, economic, and business transformation matters. An expert on antitrust, industrial organization, auction design and strategy, and damages, Singer has worked in the healthcare, insurance, telecommunications, and transportation industries. A former economist for the Securities and Exchange Commission, Singer has prepared expert reports for national groups. He earned the B.S. degree in economics at Tulane University and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics at Johns Hopkins University.

Panel questioner Jon Peha is a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. His research addresses social and policy issues that are inseparable from the technological evolution of computer and telecommunications networks. Peha earned the B.S./B.A. degrees in engineering and computer science at Brown University and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering at Stanford University.

Debate moderator Gordon Mitchell is a Pitt associate professor of communication, senior researcher at the Ridgway Center for International Security Studies, and the WPDU director of debate. Mitchell's research concentrates on public argument and rhetoric of science. His book Strategic Deception (Michigan State University Press, 2000) won the National Communication Association's Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address.

Teaming up with expert advocates are WPDU student debaters Michael Mangus, freshman, undeclared; Guy Risko, junior, English literature, philosophy, and medieval and Renaissance studies; and student panel questioner Melissa Mistretta, senior, history, political science, and Latin American studies.

The WPDU is a Pitt student organization involved in such debating activities as two-person intercollegiate policy debate, international parliamentary debate, and forms of public debate. One of the oldest organizations of its kind in the nation, WPDU is housed in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences Department of Communication.

This event is sponsored by Pitt's WPDU and Departments of Communication and Computer Science. It is part of the seventh annual Computer Science Day activities to be held that day. For more information about Computer Science Day visit For information about the debate, contact Mitchell at 412-624-8531 or