Activism Government Internet Freedom

Net neutrality protesters rally in front of White House

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Over 20 demonstrations are planned across the United States on Thursday night, as net neutrality activists take to the streets to protest against claims that Federal Communications Commission chairperson Tom Wheeler is considering a hybrid plan to regulate the flow of traffic over the Internet.

If the plan passes, the FCC would — for the first time ever — have regulatory authority over deals between content and service providers, such as the one between Netflix and Verizon.

Sources close to Wheeler said he is considering a hybrid proposal that would split the Internet into two distinct categories: retail and wholesale, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Retail services would consist of consumers paying broadband providers for Internet access, while wholesale services would involve the relationship between content providers and Internet service providers. Think of the latter as a backend agreement, where companies like Time Warner Cable provide the connection for sites like Hulu to stream content to consumers (i.e. you).

This means that any and all deals made between content and service providers would be subject to FCC regulatory authority, which would allow the agency to block agreements it feels are anticompetitive. However, the plan would still allow broadband providers to make deals with content companies to get special access to customers — a move that activists feel would open the door to cable-company censorship and abuse.

“Nearly 4 million Americans and thousands of tech companies have come forward against paid prioritization,” activist Holmes Wilson said in a post on Tumblr. “And what does Tom Wheeler come up with? Paid Prioritization.”

Wilson is the cofounder and co-director of Fight for the Future, which is organizing the protests. In addition to the public outcry, tech companies such as Reddit, Tumblr, Google, Netflix, Amazon and Facebook have all spoken out in favor of net neutrality.

*See images of the march here

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“Net neutrality protesters rally in front of White House”