Local Battle Starts to Save Internet ‘Neutrality’

December 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Two Los Angeles City Council members introduced a resolution Tuesday calling on their colleagues to oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed actions to eliminate net neutrality.

“The internet is a resource organized on the principles of openness, fairness, and freedom. It is an essential resource that fuels the creative engine of our city’s economy and preserves our right to communicate freely,’” Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said.

“Abandoning net neutrality would be an abandonment of the principles on which this country was founded.”

The FCC is expected to vote Dec. 14 on a plan that would dismantle regulations put in place by the Obama administration that requires all internet traffic be treated by service providers equally.

The rules prohibit providers from charging websites different fees that could create a “fast” or “slow” lane of traffic that critics say would harm small startups that cannot afford larger fees. Critics also say doing away with net neutrality would allow providers to censor content, prioritize its own content or block the content of a competitor.

“We need to find ways to make the internet more affordable and accessible to Angelenos. What the FCC and the Trump administration are proposing to do is a huge step backwards and only serves the stockholders of major communication companies,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield said

“The reality is that there are kids in Los Angeles and across the country who have limited access to the internet and we owe it to them to bridge the digital divide.”

At a rally Tuesday in front of the Los Angeles Federal Building, supporters of net neutrality called on the public to reach out to their elected officials and demand they protect a free and open internet.

Net neutrality rules prohibit providers from charging websites different fees that could create a “fast” or “slow” lane of traffic that critics say would harm small startups that cannot afford larger fees.

Net neutrality rules prohibit providers from charging websites different fees that could create a “fast” or “slow” lane of traffic that critics say would harm small startups that cannot afford larger fees.

Carlos Marroquin, one of the event’s organizers, said the change would give too much power to the service providers, who will be able to charge large website owners big bucks to make that site load faster – something of a toll-road system that puts small business, personal and nonprofit sites at a big disadvantage.

“They will purposely be able to slow things down, especially if it is against their corporate agenda,” he warns.

President Trump’s FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who used to be an attorney for Verizon who is leading the effort to wipe away net neutrality, has said the rules are unnecessary regulation that can stifle innovation.

“For almost 20 years, the internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress,” Pai said in a statement last week.

“This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an internet economy that become the envy of the world.”

Hundreds of protests are planned between now and then, including dozens in California, many in front of Verizon stores.

Verizon has pledged not to discriminate. But Marroquin says he fears that ISPs could make it difficult for political activists to marshal their forces into action.

“That is contrary to freedom of speech,” he says. “If you have providers that are friendly to a political party that usually sides with corporate America, they may actually block certain information to undermine democracy. We would be targeted to slow down our sites.”

Information from the California News Service used in this report.

 

 

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