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'Internet Freedom' Champions Pressure FCC

PHOTO: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, seen here (top left) at a meeting in January in Oakland, Calif., has signaled his support for rules that may threaten “net neutrality” by allowing broadband service to some companies at higher speed for higher prices. A pushback by opponents is forming quickly. Photo credit: Mark Scheerer.
PHOTO: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, seen here (top left) at a meeting in January in Oakland, Calif., has signaled his support for rules that may threaten “net neutrality” by allowing broadband service to some companies at higher speed for higher prices. A pushback by opponents is forming quickly. Photo credit: Mark Scheerer.
April 28, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has signaled his intention to allow broadband Internet service providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable to charge content providers higher prices for faster download speeds. Internet freedom activists say creating the equivalent of "fast lanes" for preferred customers and violate the principle of net neutrality, which opens the door for discrimination.

Josh Levy, Internet campaign director of the nonprofit group Free Press, calls it a "huge threat" to a free Internet.

"The only way to stop it is to organize and to channel everybody's anger and energy towards an effort to get the FCC to scrap those rules," Levy declared.

Between now and May 15, when the Commission will formally act on the proposal, a raft of public interest groups is plotting pushback efforts that include petitions and public protests.

Levy says that, initially, his group is urging people to sign petitions and call members of Congress.

"This is all about pressure focused on the FCC," he said. "Whether that pressure's coming directly from the public or from Congress, it needs to happen and they need to hear it, loud and clear."

Concerns about allowing this type of change center on giving online gatekeepers power to limit free speech, unfairly diminish competition, or limit access geographically for political reasons.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD