Nashville Mayor joins more than 50 mayors to pressure FCC on net neutrality

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry joins more than 50 mayors to pressure FCC on net neutrality (MGN)

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and 51 other mayors from across the country sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging it to reconsider changes to internet consumer protections, which they say would especially hurt middle and working class families.

“Enforceable rules that protect the free and open Internet are vital to economic vitality, especially in a growing tech hub like Nashville,” Barry tweeted Friday.

The current rules, known as net neutrality, impose utility-style regulation on ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to prevent them from favoring their own digital services over those of their rivals. The attempt to repeal net neutrality has triggered protests from consumer groups and internet companies. More than 22 million comments have been filed with the FCC about whether net neutrality should be rolled back.

At Ugly Mugs coffee shop in East Nashville, just about everyone is on a device surfing the same internet with access to the same sites, no matter which provider they have.

Among them is Carrie Horton, who volunteers at a nearby elementary school, where she said internet access is vital.

“They don't go to encyclopedias like we did when we were students,” Horton said. “They go to the internet, and so making sure that they have it even though they may not be able to afford it is really important to me."

Some fear middle and working class families could be priced out of access and information as the FCC considers rolling back protections approved in 2015, aimed at keeping the internet free,equal and open for everyone.

City leaders from Albany, New York, to Los Angeles, California, claim the changes would open the door for providers to control the information and websites consumers can see depending on the level of service you have or how much you can pay.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai argued the proposed changes are good for business and innovation.

"Entrepreneurs are constantly developing new technologies and services but too often they are unable to bring them to market for consumers because outdated rules or regulatory inertia stand in the way," Pai said in July, 2017.

Carrie Horton said she thinks the internet should be open to everyone.

“Especially for people who can't afford, to pay a lot for internet, making sure they have access to it I think is really important,” Horton said.

The FCC scheduled its vote on net neutrality next December 14th.

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