Donald Trump has just met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and families are being separated at the borders in an attempt to control the US’s immigration problem.
Yet, the only topic that some people in the US are obsessing over is net neutrality and the effects that it is having on their lives.
There are two definite camps when talking about this issue. One that is for and the other that is against the concept. Some have likened net neutrality with democracy while others have likened it with propaganda style censorship.
Who really feels that impacts of net neutrality?
Setting the scene
I recently read an article on elpasotimes.com which suggested that Millennials are undecided about whether they are for or against net neutrality. However, what they are confident about is the fact that they want rules that will govern the playing field.
The article points out that earlier this year, the Senate narrowly voted to approve a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of the Obama administration’s Open Internet Order.
Everyone realizes, however, that the CRA will not get through the House of Representatives or be signed by President Donald Trump. It is a distracting symbolic ploy that does nothing to settle the decades-old net neutrality controversy.
A drive for votes
The supporters of the resolution have said as much.
As US Senators Chuck Schumer (a Democrat from New York), and Ed Markey (a Democrat from Massachusetts) readily admit, their goal is to cynically use net neutrality as a wedge issue to drive millennials to vote for Democrats in the midterm elections.
The article points out that, in other words, the Senate CRA vote was about political positioning and not protecting the internet.
The author of the article, Lena Carew, asked if Democrat leaders really think millennials are naive, unsuspecting marionettes? While young voters strongly support open internet rules, they want a real solution, not symbolic chest pounding.
She adds that Millennials have the same frustrations as most Americans with a Congress that puts rhetoric and political maneuvering ahead of action. This CRA effort to pursue political gain instead of solutions that insult their intelligence and trivia!
No resolution in sight
The article points out that the CRA resolution almost certainly never will become law, and, even if it did, it would only extend what is already an endless debate with no permanent resolution in sight.
The long litigation process would lumber along for years. And renewed squabbling at regulatory agencies would set a whole new net neutrality proceeding in motion, relitigating an already exhausted fight and rehashing the same tired arguments on all sides.
The article adds that future elections will only bring another cycle of lather, rinse, repeat where the issue is rebooted every time the FCC changes hands. Lawyers, lobbyists and activists may profit from this, but no one else will.
The article points out that, even worse, the CRA approach to net neutrality would actually set back key policy goals Millennials deeply care about. It will do nothing to secure privacy, protect our elections or ensure that giant internet platforms don’t continue to be the handmaiden for sex traffickers, bigots, and unethical business practices.
In the wake of the Facebook revelations and countless other data breaches, Millennials (like the rest of Americans) want these companies reined in.
The article points out that Surveys by Axios/SurveyMonkey repeatedly show majorities want solutions for these yawning internet dysfunctions; but instead of stepping up to address the tough questions that could offend their donors, out of touch Democrat elites on Capitol Hill cower and opt instead for symbolic gestures.
And the CRA would only make things worse. Astonishingly, if it passed it would actually reduce privacy protections, by taking away the FTC’s power over internet providers. For all the self-righteousness about protecting consumers online, the sponsors of this resolution can only hope millennial voters will not notice the violence it does to our privacy.
It’s a stunningly tone-deaf approach that assumes policymakers can just hold up a card that reads “net neutrality” and the millennial audience will respond on Election Day like lap dogs. That’s not how deeply informed, engaged young people think.
The article adds that a serious legislative effort to enshrine permanent net neutrality rules (without sacrificing online privacy to the titans of Silicon Valley) would require both sides to do the hard work and make sure the compromises need to craft bipartisan net neutrality and privacy legislation.
There is strong support for this if America’s political class — on both sides of the aisle — would start doing the peoples’ business rather than playing endless politics.
Carew points out that as the Los Angeles Times editorial board (which, like her, supports net neutrality) recently stated: Rather than jousting over a resolution of disapproval, Congress needs to put this issue to bed once and for all by crafting a bipartisan deal giving the commission limited but clear authority to regulate broadband providers and preserve net neutrality.
Carew concludes by saying that if our political leaders want the Millennial vote, they should focus more seriously on delivering the goods rather than playing them as fools.
Is it like democracy?
In an ideal society, we would have a level playing field for rich and poor alike. An opportunity for all to prosper.
However, as we all know, we do not live in an ideal society. Is net neutrality akin to Democracy. I recently read an article on entrepreneur.com that discussed this in more detail.
The article points out that Entrepreneurs are naive if they feel net neutrality does not affect them. They assume the internet is a wide-open field that is accessible to everyone, and God’s benevolent eye constantly guards it.
The world does not accommodate them, and their passivity on this issue reveals their damning ignorance. Without net neutrality, the open internet is no longer a wide-open field. It is the Wild West, and companies with big guns win shootouts.
Wild west shootout
The article adds that, beyond that, imagine what could happen if massive companies start shootouts. What happens when Netflix and Hulu decide they’ve had enough of each other?
Both are big gunslingers in the entertainment industry, and their deep wallets are more than capable of funding massive retaliation campaigns against one another. Both AT&T and Comcast would be happy to take the money and throttle sites.
Again, imagine a world where deep-pocket candidates can pay to have their opponent’s sites put in the slow lane or even blocked by certain companies. Imagine the harm this places on democracy.
The article adds that net neutrality has been repealed. For now, there hasn’t been any bottlenecking or throttling. However, change happens slowly. Big telecommunication companies are not your friends.