On Wednesday, the Senate began its debate over repealing the net neutrality changes made by the Federal Communications Commission.
In December, the Republican-controlled FCC, in a 3-2 party-line vote, ended Obama-era net neutrality protections. The result was, essentially, media pandemonium. Some were calling it the end of the internet. Online hysteria ensued, a monumental ignorance fueling an anxiety epidemic. Of course, it didn’t help that the change occurred courtesy of the Grand Ole Party. And, perhaps even more importantly, under the administration of Donald Trump.
Unfounded mass fear is nothing new.
In 1938, Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast a dramatic radio performance of War of the Worlds. As the story goes, many listeners believed the account to be a real-world news event. Panic broke out — people attempted to evacuate their towns, causing injury and even death.
The net neutrality freak-out reminds me of that.
An important thing to consider, it seems to me, is this: net neutrality didn’t exist until 2015.
Again: net neutrality didn’t exist until 2015.
I wish the media had understood this and/or made it clear.
The internet worked before 2015, and the end of net neutrality didn’t bring down the sky.
Regardless, the measure supported by all 49 Democrats and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., is likely to pass. The bill will then go to the House, where GOP leadership is likely to give it the ol’ N-O. Furthermore, President Trump isn’t poised to endorse it.
The Democrats are employing the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to reverse agency regulations with a majority vote.
A discussion of net neutrality as a concept deserves its own article. But for anyone interested, here’s the American Action Forum’s explanation of net neutrality, given before the December repeal:
“Network neutrality is the idea that Internet Service Providers should not slow down, speed up, or block data as it is routed from its content originator to end users. Title II reclassification would be the most regressive approach that the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) could take to legally mandate network neutrality. Reclassification’s costs to consumers, investment, and the rule of law far outweigh any purported benefit, especially since other options exist to ensure consumer welfare on the Internet.”