1. It’s a complicated issue. A really complicated technical issue. The simplistic rhetoric of “demanding that ISPs treat all traffic equally” is a nonstarter, because ISPs have never done that. Peering arrangements, cacheing networks like Akamai, even the fact that you can get slow DSL for an average of $38/month or faster cable service for $41 or a really fast T1 for $250 all point to tons of variation in the way that Net traffic is handled, charged for, optimized, and delivered. Until you understand how this works you can’t even talk intelligently about net neutrality.
2. In an environment where ordinary folks can barely understand the issue, and congressmen even less, legislation is a bad idea. Even if it’s well-intentioned, legislation that attempts to control the course of technological development can have unintended consequences down the line. So today’s defeat of a Net neutrality amendment is probably a good thing, not a setback for democracy.
3. The Internet is not going to end tomorrow if ISPs start prejudicially carrying IP traffic. It may get harder for, say, AOL users or Cox Cable subscribers to do certain things. But break the Internet? Not so easy to do. There are always alternate ways of getting your data from point A to point B.
4. It may not be that urgent. Even AT&T’s Ed Whitacre, who kicked off this whole firestorm with some stupid comments a few months back about charging Google to deliver video, is backing off and says that AT&T isn’t planning to prioritize packet delivery.
5. It’s terribly named. No movement since the fight against “global warming” has given itself a worse name right out of the gate (and using the term “global warming” instead of “climate collapse” probably cost us 20 years). The fact is, “net neutrality” sounds bland, like nothing at all to get inspired about, unless you’re some crazy net geek. “Save the Internet” is a bit better but it sounds wacko and alarmist. Anyone got a better moniker? God knows they need one.
More info: Susan Crawford’s FAQ on Net Neutrality.