Ohioans protest in effort to save 'Net Neutrality'

Net neutrality protest sign.jpg
Groups gathered across the country, including a couple Central Ohio locations, to protest in favor of Net Neutrality (WSYX/WTTE)

Protests across the country occurred throughout Thursday, including the Columbus area, over "net neutrality."

Some people fear if the Federal Communications Commission repeals the current regulations, internet providers will have the power to do whatever they want. This sparked protesters to rally Thursday.

Net neutrality supporters were outside more than 700 Verizon stores across the country including the one near the OSU campus and in Upper Arlington on Henderson Road. Other protesters gathered outside Senator Portman’s Office and in front of Delaware City Hall.

"I just think neutrality might impede how I study and how I learn and further my career,” said protester Hon Nguyen.

"If you are using the internet for anything there are going to be big changes,” said another protester Amy Hurst.

Supporters of "net neutrality," like Amy Hurst, believe big changes are coming if the FCC gets rid of current regulations; regulations that were put in place by the Obama administration in 2015.

"There were a lot of problems before the regulations went into place. The big cable companies were already doing things like blocking people's access to Skype, blocking people from other services, trying to charge more,” said Hurst.

The FCC said that's simply not true. Last week the FCC released a list of "Myths VS Facts" on its website. The FCC said if these regulations stay they're bad for competition, especially for small businesses. Hurst believes the opposite will happen if these regulations are repealed.

"It's going to knock out a lot of those small businesses because they're not going to be able to pay the premiums that Amazon and Google are going to be able to pay the providers,” stated Hurst.

Verizon, one of the biggest internet providers, disagrees. The company sent us this statement Wednesday night, "Verizon agrees with those planning to publicly express their views tomorrow. Like those concerned, we fully support an open Internet and believe consumers should be able to use it to access lawful content when, where, and how they want. We've publicly committed to that before and we stand by that commitment today."

The FCC plans to vote on this issue next week. U.S. Senator Rob Portman said he wants to hear them out first.

"We'll see what they come up with. I understand there will be a new proposal coming out, I don't know if it's going to be described as net neutrality or the opposite,” said the Ohio Senator.

There will be more protests happening this Saturday as well. The FCC plans to vote on this repeal next week. Protesters are expected to be outside the FCC building, a day before the vote.