Net Neutrality re-emerged last week, thanks to a Senate vote to reverse the recent FCC decision to scuttle the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom Order.” That ruling took the Obama era rule establishing net neutrality off the books.
Without going into a mind numbing discussion of what exactly net neutrality means, (see this discussion) suffice it to say that net neutrality prohibits Internet Service Providers from benefiting or burdening certain content providers. That is, all content would flow at the same speed and the same cost.
Supporters of net neutrality argue that it is this level playing field that ensures true freedom on the internet. So calling the bill that struck it down the “restoration” of internet freedom is ironic. This piece from Wired provides a timely and comprehensive discussion about where things stand.
There are two challenges to having net neutrality restored. While three Republican Senators joined with the 49 Senate Democrats to get the Senate bill passed, it will take every Democratic vote in the House plus 22 Republicans to get it through there. Given the lack of bi-partisanship on display these days, that is a tall order.
And of course, as all School House Rock fans know, the President can veto the bill even if it emerges from Congress. And that may be the biggest hurdle. Note the second sentence of this post, where I described net neutrality as an “Obama Era” rule. That is likely it’s kiss of death with President Trump. While some say it is difficult to discern a governing principle for this administration, it’s pretty clear that “If Obama was for it, I’m against it” is a pretty good rule of thumb.
When John Oliver in 2014 urged his viewers to contact the FCC to support net neutrality the volume of comments crashed the FCC website. Perhaps in addition to that effort, former President Obama should announce a change in his view and oppose it. That could be the quickest way to get President Trump to reverse his position.