For more than a year, alongside immigration and an oil pipeline, net neutrality has been one of the biggest policy debates in the nation, prompting thousands of articles, late-night comedy skits, many Senate letters, days of mass action, and a video pronouncement from the leader of the free world. Cable and phone companies (like Comcast and Verizon) want the power to charge Web giants (like Netflix and Amazon) for access to fast lanes and preferential treatment on the Internet, which would radically change the level playing field we have today for all inventors, speakers, and organizers. A year ago, it looked like they were going to win big, but the American public spoke.
At this point, you may be wondering, “Where are we now?” Here’s the status update: We are one month from the Federal Communications Commission issuing a final decision. But it will be a month that matters because it’s not yet clear who will triumph. For the next month, the giant phone and cable companies will be lobbying to put a loophole in the FCC’s rule. Any significant loophole will do. They will ask for many loopholes, but all they need is one. So they can “compromise” by letting go of several outrageous loopholes because with one alone they can create an entirely new business ecosystem of slow and fast lanes that undermines the open Internet. It would be the one loophole they need to rule all the websites and users.
Let me explain what to look for.