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Approaching FCC Vote Could Drastically Change Internet

Advocates in Ballard are holding a day of action before the FCC's Thursday vote on net neutrality. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Advocates in Ballard are holding a day of action before the FCC's Thursday vote on net neutrality. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
December 13, 2017

BALLARD, Wash. – The Federal Communications Commission is one day away from a vote that could start a momentous change of course for the Internet.

On Thursday, the FCC will vote on a Restoring Internet Freedom proposal that critics say will repeal net neutrality.

Chairman Ajit Pai says net neutrality in its current form stifles investment and innovation on the web, but opponents fear that without it, Internet service providers could make the Internet look like a gated community, where customers pay more for access to certain sites.

Ben Lindsey, a member of Our Revolution Ballard, says small businesses would pay the price of a gated Internet.

"If you are selling something on Etsy and people have to pay an additional dollar a month to get access to Etsy, they may choose not to,” says Lindsey. “People are running little businesses out of their homes or garages or even starting something that they think could be something big. Amazon was started out of a home as a small business."

Our Revolution Ballard is holding a day of action Wednesday and encouraging people who support net neutrality to call, email or fax the FCC in the run-up to Thursday's vote.

Lindsey says repealing net neutrality will put too much control into the hands of Internet service providers as web gatekeepers.

"The larger fear is that Internet service providers will start to hide content from us without us knowing about it,” he says. “Everybody having to pay more is terrible, but being denied content without knowledge of what you are being denied is even worse."

Lindsey says anxiety over the potentially drastic change to the Internet's landscape has even led some supporters of neutrality to reconsider how the web is delivered. Although he finds this unrealistic, advocates have discussed creating their own local networks to supplant large Internet providers. Congress also could act on the issue.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA