By: Brian J. Meli
2014 will, among other things, be remembered as the year the term ‘net neutrality’ was foisted upon the American public’s ever expanding e-lexicon. It began in earnest last January, when Verizon won its high-profile challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet Order, the official name for the Commission’s rules upholding the principle of net neutrality, requiring equal treatment for all web traffic without regard to source. The issue then picked up considerable steam in May when, in response to that ruling, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and his fellow commissioners approved a new plan that would scrap the concept of net neutrality as it was understood at the time, and create a new regulatory framework allowing Internet “fast lanes,” which deep-pocketed providers could pay for the privilege to use to push their content at higher speeds. You could say it reached fever pitch one month later when comedian John Oliver pilloried the FCC’s decision in this brilliantly conceived polemic, racking up eight million YouTube hits and cementing the issue in mainstream consciousness. Finally, as 2014 drew to a close, none other than President Obama himself voiced his unequivocal support for net neutrality in a direct address to the nation.