It’s too bad that presidential campaigns are so personal, because in truth they’re policy wars. “Who’d you rather have a beer with?” might be easier to answer than “who’s got the better approach to regulating the internet?”, but the latter is far more important.
I mention all this because the FCC is set to finalize its repeal of “net neutrality” at the end of the month. Remember “net neutrality”? I certainly do, because of its peculiar premise not so much to address a major existing consumer harm, but to prevent one from coming into being. But even after its repeal, those harms –giving “fast lanes” to certain content and slowing others–haven’t really borne out. The only recent examples I could find were of Sprint reportedly throttling Skype in 2018, and Verizon throttling Santa Clara firefighters for what turned out to be going over their monthly data cap.
Ben Thompson, who writes the popular Stratechery columns, got tons of flack for being one of the few Silicon Valley types not to support net neutrality at the time. Not because he, or anyone is against the idea of “net neutrality,” but because, as he wrote at the time, “there is no evidence that harm exists in the sort of systematic way that justifies heavily regulating [internet service providers]…current regulatory structures handle bad actors perfectly well.”
“Net neutrality,” which reclassified internet providers to subject them to stricter regulation, was passed into law in 2015. It was repealed at the end of 2017, despite dire warnings from the likes of comedian John Oliver, who warned it would be the “death of the internet” and got more than 45,000 comments posted to the FCC website against the move. (And registered the domain name www.gofccyourself.com.)