The next meeting of the IRN will take place on Wednesday Dec 5 at 5:00pm in rm 302 at the Munk School (1 Devonshire Pl). Gabriel Menard, a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto, will be presenting his research.
Policy Escalation in the Net Neutrality Debate (or, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things)
The US Federal Communications Commission recently repealed network neutrality regulations that had been in place to prevent Internet access providers from engaging in anti-competitive traffic management practices. How did this widely popular telecommunications policy come to be defeated? I argue this occurred in part because (1) structural opportunities endemic to the US telecommunications policy framework allowed opponents to transform the issue from one of substantive policymaking (i.e., ‘the merits of the policy’) into one of procedural policymaking (i.e., ‘the authority to implement the policy’); and (2) this transformation obstructed the development of enduring solutions to the issue. The paper serves as a reminder that tech policy – and by extension, the future of technological development – remains firmly embedded in wider social and political contexts that may not be friendly to those directly implicated in tech development and use.