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Net Neutrality Fight Comes To Kenwood

Bill Rinehart
Demonstrators line Montgomery Road protesting the planned repeal of net neutrality.

Demonstrators marched outside a Verizon store in Kenwood Thursday. They were part of a national protest against Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to repeal net neutrality.

Local organizer John Whitling says FCC chair Ajit Pai is a former Verizon lawyer.

"Verizon has found their way to control the FCC which is what regulates utilities," Whitling says. "Their idea is to take the internet out of public utility status so they have the freedom to do anything they want to do with the internet."

He says that could mean forcing customers to pay more for different services or blocking access to some websites.

In an interview on NPR's 1A, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said consumers won't be hurt by the ending of net neutrality. He says the change is to shift regulatory authority of internet service providers (ISP) to the Federal Trade Commission.

"We're putting that protection, those consumer protections back in place. And there are additional protections that are going to be there that are going to apply if any ISP attempts to block or throttle or discriminate against conduct. Net neutrality as people understand it, that is not going away. It's simply a legal classification," Carr says.

Whitling says "Those complaints happen after an offense has occurred. The FCC regulates the internet so those events don't occur."

Verizon spokesman Rich Young told WVXU there is no connection between Ajit Pai's former employer and his current position at the FCC.

"Like those expressing their views today, Verizon fully supports 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," Young says.

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.