Supporters of Net Neutrality, a policy that forbids Internet service providers from charging different rates for different types of content, will demonstrate at Verizon stores across the country on Dec. 7, including three Hudson Valley locations.
The protests follow the announcement by the FCC of its intention to repeal Net Neutrality regulations adopted in 2015. The demonstrations will be held at Verizon stores because the current FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, was a Verizon lawyer from 2001-03. He was appointed to the FCC by President Obama in 2012 and named its director in 2017 by President Trump.
“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said in a statement. “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”
The FCC vote is scheduled for Dec. 14.
Net Neutrality supporters say its repeal would open the door for deals between large content providers and telecommunications companies, with customers and smaller content providers losing out. The metaphor of a fast-lane and slow-lane is often invoked.
Those who favor repeal say such fears are overblown. Prior to enshrining Net Neutrality into law, they point out, there were few such abuses. Instead, they say the repeal would allow for more innovation and options. A customer who mainly uses their phone for social media and rarely uses the rest of the web could purchase a cheaper social media-only package, for example.
Both sides say their position is better for innovation. Net Neutrality supporters say the policy ensures all content providers have equal access. Those who favor repeal say it’s a return to the fertile, unregulated beginnings of the Internet.
Telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon favor the repeal, while content providers, like Google and Amazon, oppose it.
Local demonstrations (all take place Thursday, Dec. 7):
- Ulster County 1:30-3:30 p.m., Verizon Store, 1200 Ulster Ave., Ulster. Will include Jeff Beals, Democratic candidate for the 19th Congressional District, and Abe Uchitelle, president of DragonSearch, a local tech and marketing company.
- Dutchess County 12 p.m., Verizon Store, 2544 South Rd., Poughkeepsie
- Columbia County 10 a.m., Verizon Store, 462 Fairview Ave., Hudson