NetLords, or Internet political elites, are powerful and influential people who control the levers of power in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Their power stems from a set of well-defined rules, and there’s no denying they’re powerful.
But in the case of net neutrality, that power has become increasingly diffuse.
For instance, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January 2017, his new order said the Federal Communications Commission “shall issue regulations that will protect and promote broadband and Internet freedom for all Americans.”
But as more and more of the Internet moves toward mobile, and as net neutrality gets stronger, the FCC is no longer the one holding the line.
In the years since Trump signed the order, the federal government has worked to protect net neutrality and other protections in the digital world.
It has tried to protect ISPs from political interference and to encourage innovation.
And it has fought for net neutrality in court, even if it was not a part of Trump’s order.
The fight has been complicated by the fact that the FCC has not only adopted regulations that affect ISPs, but also other elements of the telecommunications infrastructure.
And the FCC’s position has shifted, with the Federal Trade Commission saying that the agency has no jurisdiction over internet providers, and the Justice Department saying the FCC doesn’t have authority to regulate ISPs.
The FCC has also said it will continue to enforce net neutrality rules as part of the 2016 Telecommunications Act.
In the end, it’s unclear whether the FCC will continue enforcing net neutrality as it has been for decades, or whether it will reverse its positions and abandon the fight.
And that’s a big question for those of us who care about net neutrality.
As I write this, it is unclear whether President Trump will be able to reverse the FCC order or if he will use the threat of legal action to kill it.
But if he does, the fight over net neutrality will continue, with more and other stakeholders watching closely.
You can follow all of Recode’s coverage of the day’s biggest stories at Recode.com/Tech.