Local Group Joins Major Tech Companies In Support of Net Neutrality On ‘Day Of Action’

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) --  A small group of net neutrality supporters gathered in Giffels Auditorium in Old main at the University of Arkansas on Wednesday (July 12), a day also known as a 'Day of Action.'

They join several tech companies, including Facebook and Google, in voicing their opposition to the elimination of net neutrality rules.

In February, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to roll back a set of policies that require internet service providers (ISP) give all internet data the same priority.

The policies, or rules are often referred to as 'net neutrality' and were implemented by the FCC in 2015 and prohibited the slowing or blocking of websites' content while treating other sites with priority.

Opponents often point to the negative effects this would have on internet users, especially if an ISP blocked access to certain websites that offer information a user may need or want.

Without the current rules, opponents also say a company like Cox Communication could offer faster streaming for video services that pay for their content  to have a higher priority over competing sites or apps, according to CNN. Objectionable sites could be blocked, and faster service could be offered to the companies willing to pay a higher price.

"Internet service providers may possibly be able to get in the way of what citizens are able to access on the internet," said Michelle Gibeault, a teaching librarian at the University of Arkansas. "That is what these rules fundamentally mean, and pulling and changing them or making them so that they're no longer enforced is a problem for the citizen."

John Oliver, comedian and host of Last Week Tonight, urged viewers of his show to flood the FCC webpage that asked Americans for their input on the proposed move to roll back the policies.

Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, and supporter of the net neutrality rollback told CBS in the spring the internet thrived before the current rules which he says also stifle investment.

"Because those regulations are so prescriptive, many companies, big and small, have told us that they're holding back on investment in their internet networks," Pai said during the interview with CBS.

Supporters and opponents have until August 16 to submit a comment to the FCC and can do so here.