Abstract - The Information Society 27(5)

Net Neutrality Discourses: Comparing Advocacy and Regulatory Arguments in the US and the UK

Alison Powell, and Alissa Cooper

Telecommunications policy issues rarely make news, much less mobilize thousands of people. Yet this has been occurring in the United States around efforts to introduce “net neutrality” regulation. A similar grassroots mobilization has not developed in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in Europe. We develop a comparative analysis of US and UK net neutrality debates with an eye toward identifying the arguments for and against regulation, how those arguments differ between the countries, and what the implications of those differences are for the Internet. Drawing on mass media, advocacy, and regulatory discourses, we find that local regulatory precedents as well as cultural factors contribute to both agenda-setting and framing of net neutrality. The differences between national discourses provide a way to understand both the structural differences between regulatory cultures and the substantive differences between policy interpretations, both of which must be reconciled for the Internet to continue to thrive as a global medium.

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