As you work on the post, I think it would be useful to be very careful about how you frame the various points of fact. For example, the regulation of "common carriers" goes quite far beyond "[not] discriminat[ing] between customers", and the biggest objections to the FCC proposal from free-enterprise advocates as well as from the providers themselves center largely on aspects of that regulatory framework that you don't mention at all (here). Not a big deal in this post, of course - you're soliciting feedback. But in an explanatory post, which essentially would be a position paper, if you do the same thing you'd be failing to address the primary objections which would make the whole exercise kind of pointless in my view.
Also, it's worth noting that the FCC rules under discussion have a complicated history, and effectively have only ever been proposals. The most controversial idea is the one that suggests the FCC should re-classify ISPs as "title II carriers" - and it's only ever been an idea. Like you say: procedural and boring (although if there was a crowd with an interest in arcana and detail, this is probably it). But I suggest that if you're going to delve into that part of it, handle the facts carefully. One big takeaway from an accurate understanding of all this is kind of important: "Net Neutrality", as people currently understand it, has only very recently been a thing in the US. It has historically not been effectively regulated either by statute or regulatory rule - which means that all this time the internet has been working pretty well without it. That's not necessarily dispositive proof that no action is needed, or that Stack Overflow's position isn't valid, but it also helps us understand that this is not a scenario wherein we return to the Bad Old Days if the "Net Neutrality" position doesn't prevail, or that we will achieve Internet Nirvana if it does. This is not doomsday one way or the other.
For a detailed perspective into a lot of this nuance, I recommend Episode 72 of the "Political Economy", here: https://ricochet.com/podcast/net-neutrality/. Brent Skorup does a pretty decent job of laying out the broad view of what proponents of net neutrality are trying to achieve by relying on the Title II classification of ISPs and FCC power to arbitrate violations of it.
Cards on the table
So, I'll put more of my cards on the table, since the direct questions were "why should or shouldn't we.." and "why would anyone be against this?" I'm opposed to the Title II classification, and I don't think Stack Overflow has a strong case to be for it from a business perspective. Political perspectives of people in the company are what they are, and I don't view them as particularly relevant here because I'll not be changing any strongly-held opinions in this one post - but maybe I can take a shot at answering the questions at hand from my own perspective.
Note: for context, this is all very US-centric.
I think any scenario where the government doesn't need to be involved is the better scenario. So in a pragmatic approach to this issue, it kind of boils down to demonstrating need (and the contrapositive, demonstrating that regardless of need, there is a downside to government involvement).
The need (or lack)
The primary common argument for net neutrality, as I understand it, is that ISPs might block or throttle lawful traffic, or charge for prioritization ("fast lanes").
I don't know of many cases of this actually happening. There is the one famous instance between Netflix and Comcast (which they resolved without the help of regulators).
More to the point, ISPs don't have much incentive to do this. There are indeed areas were there is only one option for broadband access - but I think those are getting fewer and fewer - and this trend is only going to accelerate as more wireless ISPs come online: both fixed wireless and 5g/Wimax/Mmmmmagic. Available options are only going to become more plentiful.
Despite the common refrain of a lack of competition, that complaint is mostly from a consumer point of view. From, say, Comcast's point of view, there is plenty of competition. In any major market, they are competing with other major providers like Verizon and AT&T, who also offer multiple modes of access: DSL, Fiber, Wireless. There are many consumers who do actually have a choice. In my view, it's enough to prevent egregiously anti-competitive behavior from providers.
And indeed - anti-competitive behavior seems to be the primary concern. But this is already regulated. The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission already enforce these laws and have always been able to prosecute in the courts bad actors who violate antitrust laws as they occur.
Antitrust law and the standards applied by courts have been developed and refined over decades. In comparison, new regulations contain untested definitions and standards, which would be interpreted and enforced by constantly rotating commission.
Antitrust law governs the conduct of all participants in the internet marketplace uniformly, and prosecutes conduct once it occurs on a case-by-case basis and determines whether parties actually engaged in improper conduct. Regulation would only apply to a select group of entities, and is a one-size-fits-all approach that creates a burden on everyone regardless of whether they are acting unlawfully. And consumers often ultimately bear the cost of this regulation." (some paraphrasing)
To address Stack Overflow's interest directly: I think it is exceedingly unlikely that an ISP would apply the aforementioned bad practices. There is simply no reason, and no business model for them to do so.
Update: It seems like a good idea to address the claim of a lack of competition as a reason for Title II classifications - that somehow, the state of things in Internetlandia resembles the telephone networks and AT&T from the 1930s. I just don't see any evidence to suggest this is actually true. According to broadbandmap.gov:
It looks to me like there are actually very few people who have fewer than 4 providers available to them. I don't see why that's not enough to prevent the kind of bad behavior envisioned by proponents, in the main. It also bears repeating: improvements in wireless technology are changing this a lot, and for the better (in terms of access).
There are a few, but let's start with forbearance. Broadly speaking, government entities that have had the power to do something eventually do it. So the FCC promised to forbear from applying the most stringent parts of Title II (say, like rate fixing - which would be a disaster) - but I just don't trust that promise at all. Maybe Mr. Wheeler (the chairman in 2015) meant it earnestly, and it appears that he and the commission abided by that promise. Good for them. What happens when an entirely different commission decides, arbitrarily, that they will no longer forbear - something I view as all but inevitable if the rules stay in place? Do we want them to have arbitrary and capricious power over such an important part of the national infrastructure, and a service that over half the country has come to rely on? I don't.
Skorup makes a extends this argument further with a helpful example in National Affairs:
The FCC's tendencies, in the words of economist and judge Richard Posner, result in "unprincipled compromises of Rube Goldberg complexity among contending interest groups viewed merely as clamoring suppliants who have somehow to be conciliated." The discretion it reserves for itself undermines its work because its approval processes are frequently sidetracked by powerful interests in and outside of government. For example, one wireless company, LightSquared, spent billions of dollars converting satellite spectrum for use as mobile broadband, in the hopes of competing with AT&T and Verizon. The FCC tentatively encouraged that costly process for a few years before rescinding crucial permissions under intense political pressure. The bureaucratic shift immediately bankrupted LightSquared and deprived Americans of the benefits of another major wireless operator.
If the neutrality rules stick, I think it's likely that ISPs will lobby to have content providers regulated as well because in some respects they compete (say, Xfinity vs Netflix - or even Google vs Bing - or how about CDNs, which are effectively fast lanes) and they're going to work to negate competitive advantages that are held over them. The coiner of the term Net Neutrality also "argued in congressional testimony that the FCC should be charged with "protecting an open society," "safeguarding the political process," and prohibiting media companies from silencing political viewpoints." Another way to put that is: tell media companies (which would include Stack Overflow) what they are and are not allowed to publish on their distribution networks. I'm not for that.
Even "Lawrence Lessig penned a piece in 2008 for Newsweek titled, "It's Time to Demolish the FCC," in which he bemoaned the problems of industry capture and the FCC's increased politicization. Echoing many conservative complaints, he concluded that, when it comes to technology, there's an urgent need to "remove the government from the mix as much as possible."
Also, David Clark amusingly pointed out that a legal regime of net neutrality is seriously anti-investment, which is a common argument against it.
The way I prefer to think of it
My view is that the prior regime of antitrust enforcement coupled with letting free markets figure things out is the superior approach.
Part of why I think the blanket regulatory approach is a bad idea is that the nuts and bolts of how all this boils out is completely opaque to most people. How many people understand how peering works? What about CDNs? Datacenters? How do these things apply where all this stuff comes together? Was the Netflix v Comcast thing really an instance of bad behavior vis-à-vis network neutrality, or was it just an instance of a major provider trying its best to make its network work better, and a participant got its finger caught in the door (so to speak)? Did anyone notice that there weren't any antitrust enforcement actions against Comcast in that case - to me signifying that the way it ultimately worked out was far better than every internet participant having to shoulder the burden of blanket regulation.
To add to this point, definitions are very tricky too. Why isn't a CDN the same thing as "paid prioritization"? When Bittorrent was a really "impolite" program and absolutely crushing consumer networks, was it an anti-competitive action for ISPs to throttle it? Even the basic statement of principle on battleforthenet.com doesn't stand up to very much scrutiny: "Internet providers should not control what we see and do online". Taken literally, that would mean they couldn't manage their networks effectively.
Kayne and Layton very interestingly note in US News that Denmark, consistently a leader in connectivity and telecom services to consumers, doesn't have a centralized regulator like the FCC. They dismantled their centralized telecom regulator in 2011. "That Denmark's broadband market has flourished without centralized government regulation should be instructive to the United States. Clearly, top-down rules are not the only way to produce consumer friendly outcomes. "
To me this is a solution in search of a problem. Real problems include:
- lack of deeper broadband penetration
- lack of consumer choice
There are definitely others, but these are the ones that come to mind. The net neutrality rules don't help these problems, and I think I could make a case that they make them worse (regulatory capture, yadda yadda). Instead, we could try to figure out how to let municipalities build last-mile broadband infrastructure. We can get the FCC to auction off more of the wireless spectrum that the government is currently hogging. There are other better approaches to real problems that I think would have a more positive effect. They just take more work.
Anyway, there it is. I could go on and on and on, but this is already a wall o' text that only Shog is going to read anyway :-) Just to be clear, I am not wound up and anxious about this, and I don't think histrionics are appropriate responses to policy questions. If the FCC keeps the rules, we will muddle through. I think things will be a little worse if they do, but it's not the end of everything good and right. If they don't keep the rules, I think it's a step in the right direction, but that's about all.
P.S. - my apologies to upvoters who may now want to retract their votes (which is totally fine)
One last thing: good luck. Politics is hard.