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Americans explain what no net neutrality means for you

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) board voted 3-2 in favor of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to repeal existing net neutrality rules on Dec. 14, 2017.

In the near future, the internet may not be as we know it.

Due to net neutrality, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast or AT&T didn't have the power to slow down or block websites in America.

Without net neutrality, ISPs now can:
  • Block or slow down service for any apps or websites

  • Censor or prioritize content

  • Charge to access particular websites or content

  • Stifle traffic to competitors' websites or discriminate by IP address

Protestors at the March for Net Neutrality braced freezing temperatures and harsh winds to protest for net neutrality on Dec. 13, 2017, in front of the FCC building in Washington, D.C.

Demonstrators shared their criticism of the plan and possible ramifications that may now become a reality.

The group of about 40 plus protestors held signs up that read, “This sign has been blocked by your ISP,” and “Save the Internet.”

Net neutrality is connected to our democracy

" In a functioning democracy, you need to have the free flow of information,” said Abel Birhanu.

Abel Birhanu, 26, who works at a publishing company proudly held up his sign that read, “Error 404. Democracy Not Found. Stop the FCC.”

Birhanu doesn’t trust ISPs to play fair and believes they will throttle internet traffic to websites.

In 2009, Comcast settled a $16 million class-action lawsuit for blocking or slowing down downloads through BitTorrent. In the same year, Verizon settled a $16 million class-action lawsuit for slowing down YouTube, Netflix, and other video streaming services.

“I think in a functioning democracy, you need to have the free flow of information,” said Birhanu.

Another protester, Greg Lyon, drove with his friend, Kristin Beard from Knoxville, Tennessee. He held a sign that read, “Net neutrality is free speech.”

Left to right: Greg Lyon, Kristin Beard

Lyon feared without net neutrality, corporate gatekeepers would control access to content and infringe on free speech.

“Our society without net neutrality is like communist dictatorships like in Russia and China that don’t currently have net neutrality,” said Lyon. “I prefer democracy over fascism or authoritarianism.”

No net neutrality means no free speech

" No net neutrality is “a lot less power for citizens,” said Kristin Beard.

Kristin Beard fears without net neutrality, corporations will disrupt how people can communicate online.

She perceives a society without net neutrality means, “a lot less communication amongst citizens and a lot less power for citizens.”

No net neutrality affects online businesses

Darell Pollard, one of the protestors, makes part of his income online through his Youtube cartoon and gaming channels.

Darell Pollard, stands in front of the FCC building to repel Pai’s proposal that guts existing net neutrality rules.

If the Pai's proposal goes through, Pollard will have to find another source of income.

“I basically will be forced to find a full-time job if this goes through,” said Pollard.

Repealing net neutrality will affect education

Alisa who develops curriculums and didn’t want to share her last name worried about the future of educational organizations that give free material.

“How are they supposed to compete if they can’t pay the totals these ISPs are going to put up? They will be crushed and locked down,” said Alisa.

Alisa held a sign that read, “My ISP shouldn’t control what I see.” She explained how repealing net neutrality will affect education. According to her, open educational resources that put out educational information, could be affected.

Thereby affecting the amount of educational information at our disposal.

“The free and open internet is just so important for any student or anyone looking to seek out information, to learn, and to educate themselves,” said Alisa.

Repealing net neutrality will affect our wallet

Sky Pony held a sign that listed what she thought to be basic American values, “Net Neutrality, Free Speech, Free Market, Free People,” in red, white, and blue.

Sky Pony held a sign that listed what she thought to be basic American values, “Net Neutrality, Free Speech, Free Market, Free People."

“The internet has been an open free way for people to communicate, said Pony. “It really shouldn’t be something others can take away from us and decide who gets to see what and charge us to no end for it.”

Together the protestors faced the FCC building and chanted, “Ajit Pai you can’t hide. We can see your corporate signs,” referring to Pai’s previous position as the Associate General Counsel at Verizon, where he handled matters including competition and regulatory issues. Ironically, repealing net neutrality will benefit organizations like Verizon.

Now what?

The repeal can be overturned by Congress or in court. The states of New York, Washington, Illinois, Oregon and Massachusetts, are all planning to sue the FCC.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, is working on legislation to overturn FCC's decision and announced his efforts with the following tweet.

I plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution that would restore the Open Internet Order and reverse the @FCC’s historic mistake of repealing #NetNeutrality. This fight is far from over.

— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) December 14, 2017

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