Activists in Ames are fighting for net neutrality

net neutrality stock

net neutrality stock

Chris Anderson

On Dec. 14, the FCC will vote on whether to repeal net neutrality regulations set in place by former FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler.

Net neutrality refers to the principle that internet service providers should ensure equal access to all internet content. FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, has been leading the charge on repealing what he calls “heavy-handed” regulations.

In Ames, activists are preparing to show how they feel about the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality regulations.

Grant Olsen, organizer of the “Ames Protest – Save Net Neutrality” Facebook page, is organizing the protest as a way to contribute to social change.

The protest is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 7, in front of the Verizon storefront at 806 S. Duff Ave. Verizon is one of many internet service providers who has been seen in support of repealing net neutrality regulations. Pai also worked for Verizon as a lawyer before becoming FCC Chairman.

Olsen got the idea to organize the protest after learning of similar protests on

Battle for the Net is a website and activism effort put on by progressive groups and internet content providers opposed to repealing these regulations. On their website, affiliate organizations include The Center for Media Justice, the ACLU and Netflix.

The website has many ways for people to get involved, including a map of scheduled protests and information to reach out to members of the house and senate. The website calls out internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon as “Team Cable.” It claims the internet providers are lobbying the FCC and Congress to enforce “pay prioritization” which it says would amount to a tax on every sector of the American economy and extinguish voices that couldn’t afford to pay.

Pay prioritization is the main fear Olsen and other activists have about repealing net neutrality regulations. Olsen describes this as essentially internet service providers creating fast and slow lanes of internet access which could force either websites or consumers into paying more to access certain websites.

“It could be your business; it could be an issue you strongly feel about. You may have to pay Mediacom or Century Link to be able to be part of the fast lane and everyone else will have to be part of the slow lane,” Olsen said.

Under current net neutrality regulations, providers must treat each website equally and are not allowed to set up fast or slow lanes.

The rollback of these regulations is widely expected to pass on a vote of 3-2 by the FCC board along party lines. However, to activists, the fight doesn’t end there.

Battle for the Net encourages people to reach out to their elected officials, as Congress could write a law ensuring net neutrality independent of the FCC. Olsen shared his protest is meant to send a message to Congress, just as much as Verizon or the FCC.

“We’re hoping we can get Congress’ attention to stop the FCC from repealing these rules,” Olsen said. “Therefore, you have a more representative take across the nation, rather than one FCC chairman.”

Pai is proposing to rollback these regulations on the grounds that they discourage innovation.

“At the urging of the Obama administration, the FCC slapped on the internet the very same heavy-handed regulations developed by the Roosevelt administration to regulate the Ma Bell telephone monopoly. What has been the result? Investment in broadband networks has declined and innovation has been discouraged. That’s why I believe it is time for us to return to the successful market-based approach that governed the internet for almost two decades,” Pai said in an opinion piece published by The Washington Times.

Activists like Olsen however, feel regulation is necessary to ensure a fair and open internet.

“Deregulation can sometimes make a wild west, so you have to have a referee on the field to make sure all players are playing fairly,” Olsen said.