Net Neutrality -- defined as the principle that users should control what they can access on the net -- or, from the supply side of things, that Internet service providers shouldn't be able to block content from some users or create a tiered service model. Today, the Federal Communications Commission started the long rule-making process by a unanimous vote.
It's a hot issue in tech -- one that could define the future of the net -- but it's also become a terribly important political issue. Here's why.
One: there's a split in the Democratic coalition, featuring, in general, progressive/tech activists on one side and Blue Dog Dems and civil rights groups on the other. Netroots progressives had three main issues in 2008: Iraq, FISA, and net neutrality.
Two: the divisions have a created a split among Democratic elected officials. Seventy-two House Dems signed a letter urging the Federal Communications Commission to slow down its pro-neutrality activities.
Three: it's a proxy for a fight over the economy. Why did all the major carriers turn down stimulus money that had net neutrality provisions? (How do you think Rahm Emanuel felt about stimulus money getting turned down?) Contrast this to the acceptance of TARP money and executive pay.