Net Neutrality
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The internet is currently a free and open place for people to browse and stream videos, but a rollback on regulations could put that freedom in jeopardy. We're talking about something called Net Neutrality. Rules to protect it were put into effect two years ago under the Obama administration. It's designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally. On Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai released his plan to repeal those regulations. He says net neutrality discourages providers from making investments to their network to provide better and faster online access. But critics say no companies should be allowed to charge more for a fast lane on the internet. Beyond the usual stacks of books at the Cambria County Public Library, many people in Johnstown come for free and open access to the internet. "The use and the need just continue to get greater and greater." Meek says the library has 24 computers providing internet access for more than 20 years. "We're all about equal access to information and being able to provide free internet access is one of our principles." But a rollback on net neutrality could make that more difficult. Internet service providers could soon pick and choose which websites run faster than others. "I can only see the benefit going to the internet service providers and not to the general public, the consumer, getting access to the internet the way we're able to provide." Many people including Raymond Cassidy rely on these services. He works on his family tree online, two to three days a week. "I'm against having to pay for anything that's already free." "Those who can pay can play, as you said, in their lanes, to boost certain things that just wouldn't be equal or fair." She says eliminating net neutrality could lead to libraries not being able to provide internet because of cost. "Schools and libraries get internet at a very deeply discounted rate, thanks to a program called the E-Rate that's administered by the FCC, I could see that program being challenged if these regulations are eliminated." Meek says the library wouldn't be able to provide the amount of stations they have now. That access is important, even for librarians. "I do not have internet at home, myself, so many people like me, this is our source for internet use and for printing." Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Wednesday that a potential repeal would harm internet access. "This could result in internet providers jacking up prices and purposely slowing down the speed of streaming. People could end up paying more for worse service." Less than a year ago, the FCC chairman was a lawyer for Verizon Communications Inc. Given the Republican majority on the FCC board the proposed rules are expected to pass at the next meeting on December 14th. Thousands of companies and consumer groups are against the changes, including Google Amazon and Facebook.