Charleston Gazette-Mail: Ev Ehrlich: Ending the endless net neutrality debate

By Ev Ehrlich

With a two-year budget deal offering “the first shoots of bipartisanship” in place, attention is being paid to what else can be grown in that garden. Infrastructure, immigration, and the opioid crisis are all on the list, but an even greater — and simpler — option is available — net neutrality.

It’s got all the necessary ingredients for success — a policy premise shared by all sides, a clear history of bipartisan cooperation, and the risk that, if we don’t act, extremists on either end of the spectrum will (at great cost).

First, neutrality rests on a widely shared premise. Everyone understands that the internet is the new town square — our first stop for news, culture, work or access to the government. It must be protected and kept free and open for all. No one — whether it’s a search engine, social media platform or internet provider — should be allowed to line their pockets by blocking or censoring internet traffic or manipulating the flow of data to choke off competition.

The problem isn’t that we disagree on that, but that we’re using the wrong tools to address it. Administrations of both parties have tried to use the FCC’s regulatory authority to make this principle real, but court challenges, administration transitions, and rapid technological change all undermine the rules they come up with.

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