It’s still crazy to me thinking about how social interaction mediated through machines is so heavily regulated by business and government. I understand that the goal of regulating municipalities has its heart in the right place. But the issue with policies is that they are easily exploited by privilege and power, and are usually written in such a way as to maintain an archaic power structure, which causes the dissemination of information and the dialogue inherent in social interaction to be stifled in a way that seems violent.
That said, the FCC’s 3-2 majority vote to classify the Internet as a title 2 communication is a legal step in the right direction regarding net neutrality. This means that Internet service providers are now regulated regarding any actions that “unreasonably interfere with or disadvantage consumers,” or the companies whose sites and apps they’re trying to access. The law stipulates that internet providers may slow down service only for the purpose of “reasonable network management.” This article by VERGE notes the specifics of the decision.
Now we can sit back and watch the interpretation wars begin. But at least for the moment, there is legal ground gained for neutrality. And I think that is to be celebrated. We do need to address this issue more, though. We need to encourage a broader conversation regarding how we share and disseminate information, and what structures of power both politically and financially should have a say in how we regulate that interaction. Technologies continue to be designed around improving ease of access for every human, and that type of freedom challenges the status quo.