It is difficult to point to an issue, outside of gun control or abortion, that has become such an epicenter of political debate as the issue of net neutrality.
The vote of the Federal Communications Commission last Thursday to repeal 2015 net neutrality policies has caused a storm within mainstream media, with many proponents of the regulations reacting as if the world as we know it has come to an end.
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders released a statement that the repeal was an “egregious attack on our democracy” and another sign that the current administration has sided with “big money” against the “interests of the American people.” Sanders’ fellow party member from New York, Chuck Schumer, has already told media that Democrats will rally to block the policies repeal in the Senate under the authority of the Congressional Review Act.
Meanwhile, a coalition of public attorneys from across the U.S. has made the claim that by repealing net neutrality, the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, essentially overstepping its executive powers. They are now gearing up to sue the FCC in response to the its decision.
Understanding the underlying issues at the base of net neutrality is essential to understanding these waves of outrage, and more importantly, the political significance of the policies, and the economic consequences of their establishment and recent repeal.
The very term “net neutrality” is a bit of a misnomer.
“Neutrality” connotes a type of passive non-discrimination. While the policies of net neutrality do produce a certain level of equality for web content, an the end of the day, these are a set of federal regulations, and regulations force people to do things.
It is around this point that the war of ideas breaks out.