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It's official! No more neutral internet

(KNOE)
Published: Jun. 11, 2018 at 6:29 PM MDT
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Big changes could be headed to the internet industry as net neutrality becomes a policy of the past.

The regulations went into affect in 2015 and faded into the history books as of Monday.

The rules forced internet providers like Midco, Vast Broadband, and Comcast to allow equal access to web content.

Lori Miller, with activist group Indivisible Rapid City, believes dumping Net Neutrality was a mistake.

"Repealing these rules basically gives companies the ability to do whatever they want," Miller said.

Without Net Neutrality, internet providers can pick and choose which sites they grant access to and at which speeds, opening the door to censorship.

Content providers like Netflix are in direct competition with Comcast, which owns NBC Universal and controls access to the internet for over 20 million customers. You can imagine a scenario where NBC would want to speed up streams of its shows and slow down streams of its rivals, Nexflix.

"It can hurt your small businesses. It can hurt your grassroots organizations," Miller said. She warns of internet providers restricting access to websites containing content the company doesn't agree with.

"If the companies decide we don't like this particular organization or what they stand for so we're not going to let it go out to the people that we provide services to. That's a huge issue," Miller said. "People should be able to access the information that they're looking for, regardless of what their internet provider believes in."

South Dakota Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds were among the 52 senators who voted against a Democratic resolution to save Net Neutrality. But that's also confusing because Thune said he actually supports the regulations.

In a speech on the senate floor on May 9, Thune said regulations needed to come from Congress, not the Federal Communications Commission.

"There is widespread agreement among senators from both parties that we need to maintain a free and open internet," Thune said. "There's widespread agreement that we need Net Neutrality legislation."

Miller disagrees, claiming there's more to this than meets the eye.

"The politicians who say, 'oh we support Net Neutrality' but vote against - it's a cop out. They just don't want to own the fact that they want to change this," Miller said. "Whatever makes the guy in the White House happy, that's what they're going to do."

Comcast put out a statement saying they support Net Neutrality and will continue to support a free and open internet, despite lobbying to have the regulations thrown out.

We reached out to local internet provider, Vast Broadband to see if they are planning on any changes. They did not return our calls.

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