Online Protest Supports Net Neutrality

After winning the battle for open Internet rules two years ago, net neutrality advocates are hoping a wave of public comments can help them keep the rules in place. Net Neutrality Day of Action this Wednesday (June 12) is an online protest of the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to roll back its Obama-era rule. 

Nearly 4 million public comments helped usher in net neutrality in 2015, guaranteeing consumers equal access to the Internet. Marty Newell, coordinator of the Rural Broadband Policy Group, says the FCC’s move would repeal those protections.

“Everybody deserves a fair shake on the Internet,” he stresses. “Big Internet service providers ought not to be able to pick winners or losers. They ought not be able to block content, lawful content.”

Internet service provider giants, such as Comcast and Verizon, maintain they will not block content. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says the regulations shackle the cable and telecom industries. Newell counters, saying net neutrality has not slowed down investment or innovation. 

The FCC is currently in its public comment period before finalizing its decision on loosening the rules.

Newell says the nation’s history in treating telephone service as a utility illustrates the importance of regulating common carriers, especially in under-served rural areas where the Internet can help small businesses compete.

“Content being generated in rural America is not going to be the big guys that can afford to buy their way into a faster Internet,” he stresses.

Amazon, Vimeo and Netflix are among the tech companies that support net neutrality.

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