By Shawn Chitnis
DENVER (CBS4) – A rally downtown on Saturday was the latest attempt to raise awareness for “Net Neutrality” days before a vote by the Federal Communications Commission expected to reverse the policy, supporters say the move will affect how consumers see online content.
“The internet being slowed down for certain sites, the internet blocking certain sites, it impacts what you want, it impacts your freedom of speech, and your freedom of information,” said Zach Amdursky.
The rally at Skyline Park featured multiple speakers in the afternoon arguing the internet is a utility that should available to all. Companies could charge content providers to get their material available at a faster rate, supporters say. Smaller businesses or independent sites may be at a disadvantage against larger corporations or major media outlets.
“What Net Neutrality protections, if they are overturned, would do is essentially make it so the internet is no longer a free and open place,” said Caroline Fry, another rally organizer.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and opponents of Net Neutrality argue that more investment will come into the industry if they repeal the policy. They also argue that regulations used to create the policy are old and were never meant to affect the internet.
“Because those regulations are so prescriptive, many companies, big and small, have told us that they’re holding back on investment in their internet networks,” said Pai in an interview with CBS earlier in the year.
Pai went on to say that removing Net Neutrality would allow companies to spend the money needed to improve speed and service.
“The FCC’s rule not only circumvents the lawmaking process, but also the very people who are responsible for the Internet’s evolution and success,” said Sen. Cory Gardner in a statement back in 2016.
Gardner has also said in past statements that the internet should not be regulated by a government agency using old rules but instead new legislation should be passed to address concerns of slowing speeds or blocking content to consumers.
“If you use the internet, this affects you and I’m pretty sure you use the internet,” said Amdursky.
The proposal by Pai is scheduled for a vote on Dec. 14. Organizers at the rally asked everyone to contact lawmakers and spread the word about the issue in the days leading up to the FCC decision.
“The internet has just become such an integral part of our society that we can’t function without it,” said Fry.