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Net Neutrality – The Popular Opinion

by Chad Sanders
Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

Time for a math lesson.

Take one up-and-coming young professional, add a singular crusty old executive, multiply that by a brand new task management software, square root an innocent staff and divide the whole thing by lackluster email communication. The sum total equals conflict. The young buck and the old timer are blaming each other for getting behind. The project is dead and the money is burned.

That’s the net neutrality debate in a nutshell.

The situation seems a bit touchy. The political divide created a situation in which the left and right argue in a way that supports the same narrative-freedom on the internet. One side wants freedom from large communication companies regulating what you can look at via paywalls and slow bandwidth, and the other wants freedom from the government to dictate what we do and say online.

The debate hit national spotlight in 2011 when Verizon Communications, Inc. took on the Federal Communications Commission for enacting regulations to prohibit interference of internet traffic flow. This was done by establishing broadband as a public utility and not the private property of the internet providers. It’s similar to how radio stations don’t actually own the airwaves they broadcast on because those waves have existed since the big bang. 

It’s the same thing, but with fiber optics. 

Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

Barack Obama

The former president was a vocal supporter of net neutrality taking place, considering it a protector of innovation. The temporary victory (more on that later) culminated on February 26, 2015 when the FCC agreed to uphold the ruling after millions of people contacted them in support of net neutrality.

“I ran for office because I believed that nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change,” Obama said in a 2015 press release. “That’s the backbone of our democracy, and you’ve proven that this timeless principle is alive and well in our digital age. So to all the people who participated in this conversation, I have a simple message-Thank you.”

Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

Ben Shapiro

The political commentator was unsurprisingly against the Obama-era notion of net neutrality. In 2014, he wrote a piece for breitbart.com titled “Seven Reasons Net Neutrality is a Dumb Idea.” The reasons ranged from hypothetical situations like technological stagnation and an internet taxation to faux-redundancy, stating “We already have Net Neutrality”.  

“As a result of competition between internet service providers in the marketplace, ISPs generally do not discriminate against highly trafficked websites,” Shapiro said. “If they did, holding a figurative gun to the head of those websites by throttling back speed to those websites, consumers would dump those ISPs in favor of others. Competition ensures that companies do not have the leverage to discriminate against particular websites.

“The government is never the solution, especially when there’s no real market failure. As usual, government’s cure is worse than the disease.”

Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

Donald Trump

Even after the FCC won the court of appeals case against Verizon, things began to dismantle in 2017 when the new folks in charge of the FCC decided to rollback to the pre-Obama era regulations.

Trump seemed to be a critic of the original decision before taking office. Remember when he was tweeting and no one paid attention?

“Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab,” Trump said via Twitter in 2014. “Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.”
Since inauguration, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back many of Obama’s policies, whether through executive actions or congressional reviews and legislation. Many of the issues have been hot-button topics for decades, such as environmental regulation, health care provisions and international trade.

Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

Donald Trump Jr.

Opinions don’t fall far from the tree as Junior (I guess “first son” is the proper term) reiterates the president’s backing of the 2017 FCC rollback. Although, the statement appears to be more criticizing opponents than actually providing evidence for the argument.

“I would pay good money to see all those people complaining about Obama’s FCC chairman voting to repeal #NetNeutrality actually explain it in detail,” Junior said in a tweet from 2017.

Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

Chris Evans

One of the first celebrities to speak out about the repeal was Captain America himself. This would appear to be a starting point for Evans’ political influence, as he is currently looking to launch “A Starting Point”, a political website designed to bridge the partisan gap on multiple issues.

“EVERYONE should care about this!” Evans said via Twitter in 2017. “It benefits no one unless you’re a faceless, mega corporation. NOBODY is asking for it.”

Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

Mark Ruffalo

Evans “Avengers” co-star also spoke out against the net neutrality repeal. Political matters are nothing new for Ruffalo, and the issue of net neutrality was hardly anything different.

Taking away net neutrality is the authoritarian dream,” Ruffalo said via Twitter in 2017. “Consolidating information into the hands of a few controlled by a few. Dangerous territory.”

There is almost no way for equality unless everyone has equal and easy access to internet service. Education, policy, news, commerce, health, all are run on the internet. #InternetAsHumanRight”

Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

Tom Morello

The Rage Against the Machine guitarist has been outspoken on political matters longer than he has been a recording artist. With a BA in social science from Harvard University, he is the antithesis of the cliched “uninformed celebrity liberal”. 

“Net neutrality is the free speech fight of this generation and time is running out,” Morello said via Twitter in 2018. “It’s time for the Internet to rise up again.”
Morello, along with Michael Stipe, Alyssa Milano, Wil Wheaton and 150 other artists signed an open letter to firghtforthefuture.org in December 2017 against Congress’ decision to repeal net neutrality.

 The medium that allows us to be great artists is under threat. Without a free and open internet, so much music, writing, film, art, culture, passion, and creativity would be lost. For the artists of the future, and the culture of the future, we will not be silent.
Without net neutrality there will be less awesome art. Period.

Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

David Harbour

This is one of the most, let’s say unique opinions.  The “Stranger Things” star had some choice words for Congress while accepting the 2018 Webby Award for best actor. The ceremony was a few days before the repeal vote.

“Net Neutrality, you greedy dickheads,” Harbour said. “Always with speeches, I feel like it’s an opportunity to say something. You’re at the Webby Awards, let’s talk about the internet and let’s talk about the ways that people in power are dead set messing it up, making money out of it for the few, which is what this jackass chairman of the FCC is doing right now.

“So yeah, I wanted to say something about that. I think that they are greedy, and I think that they’re dickheads.”

Net Neutrality - The Popular Opinion

Mitch McConnell

The Democrat majority-led House of Representatives recently passed the Save the Internet Act, which would bring back the Obama era FCC policy on net neutrality. However, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell sees a different outcome for the bill when it hits the floor.  You know how Mitchy Mitch loves to be candid. “Dead on arrival in the senate” McConnell said.

As of April 2019, the debate continues. Net neutrality is still pinging back and forth like air hockey. But not like an extremely intense, winner-takes-all game of air hockey between you and a mortal enemy that goes back decades. More like the half-assed, busted table played on by kids at Cici’s Pizza.
It just sucks, man.

Cyberpunks.com contributor Laura Herbek reported on Mozilla et al v. Federal Communications Commission, the latest in the debate in court proceedings between the FCC and the communication community.

Though the arguments stretched on for nearly five hours, little seems to have been decided. However, one point of particular interest during oral arguments was the­­ issue of paid prioritization, also known as “fast lanes,” a practice which would allow ISPs to give preferential treatment to selected kinds of web traffic­. In one of the more intriguing moments of the hearing, Judge Patricia Millett, an Obama appointee, grilled FCC general counsel Thomas Johnson after he suggested that paid prioritization was entirely hypothetical.  Johnson stated, “Paid prioritization is a theoretical construct. . . To my knowledge, there is on the public internet no such arrangement. And so, all of the speculative concern we have heard about winding dirt roads and fast lanes and slow lanes is entirely speculative.”

…The court is expected to rule sometime this summer. Judges have several options on the table, including approving the repeal, terminating it, or ordering the FCC to make specific modifications to the policy before it can move forward.

For now, the update on the argument seems to be simply more arguing.

Hey, chum. These posts don't write themselves. If you wanna stay in the know, it's gotta be a two way street.*

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