Nationwide demonstrations to save net neutrality, FCC set to vote on plan to eliminate it

Thousands of people are demonstrating across the country today in front of Verizon stores. On December 14 the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a proposed plan to eliminate net neutrality. (KOMO News) 

SHORELINE, Wash. -- Thousands of people demonstrated across the country Thursday in front of Verizon stores to save net neutrality. On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a proposed plan to eliminate net neutrality.

Armed with signs, demonstrators in Shoreline say they are fighting for what is right.

“I’m here to defend our internet and our access to open information,” Tyler Siceloff said.

“This access to the internet, access to social media that all of us have come to expect. I believe we all have a right to have equal access,” Janet Way said.

Coast to coast, thousands of people on Thursday say they are fighting to save net neutrality.

“This internet belongs to the people and it does not belong to few internet providers such as Google or Verizon or others or the cable companies who basically want to set up gatekeepers on the internet and charge us a lot of money,” said demonstrator Terri Suess.

Protesters are demonstrating in front of Verizon stores because the current FCC chairman used to work for the company as legal counsel.

The FCC is set to vote next week to repeal rules that require internet service providers to treat all websites equally.

Hanson Hosein, director of the Communication Leadership program at the University of Washington, explained the big picture.

“The previous administration has said that broadband should be considered a utility. It’s that essential and we are going to regulate it as such. This administration is saying now we got to deregulate it so that people who actually control the infrastructure have more incentive to provide more products,” Hosein said.

“The concept of the internet is supposed to be this globally, democratically accessible information resource. The concern is it goes away if these monopolistic providers such as Comcast have the opportunity to charge and treat traffic differently,” Hosein said. “There's a fear that if net neutrality goes away, companies will abuse their position.”

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging them to reject the proposal to repeal net neutrality.

Inslee also shared a video clip on Twitter:

“We have freedom of speech in this nation. And we ought to have a principal of equal and unfettered access to the internet,” Inslee said.

Below is the statement from Michael Schutzler, CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA):

“I commend those who are protesting across the country today. This isn’t just a consumer issue. Startups, VC investors, and large companies are also very concerned. ISPs will be able to pick the winners and losers among companies using the internet. There is a mountain of evidence that the current rules do not stifle innovation—any such claims are absurd. If the FCC proceeds as expected, the new rules will disrupt the balance of power that makes the internet an economic engine for our country.”

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