UPDATE: People protest FCC vote outside of Verizon store in Eau - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: People protest FCC vote outside of Verizon store in Eau Claire


Eau Claire (UPDATE) -- People gathered at Verizon stores on Thursday to protest the Federal Communications Commission upcoming vote that could roll back the rules of net neutrality. 

About a dozen people in Eau Claire braved the cold weather Thursday night to have their voices heard. 

Current regulations require internet service providers (ISPs) treat all web traffic equally. Protesters said corporations shouldn't have control over the internet, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who worked for Verizon in the early 2000s, said the rule has slowed private business investment in the internet. 

The FCC is set to vote on Thursday, December 14. 

Eau Claire (WQOW) -- Next week, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on whether to repeal net neutrality rules. 

Right now, with the regulations in place, internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all web traffic equally. Without the rules, critics claim companies like Charter, Comcast and AT&T could provide fast speeds for websites that pay them more money and slower speeds for sites that don't 

Earlier this year, Ajit Pai stopped by the News 18 studio and explained why he supports rolling back the regulations. He said private business investment in the internet was thriving before the rule was implemented in 2015. But since then, he said businesses have scaled back.

"My fear is that the regulations that were adopted in 2015 on a party-line basis have been reducing investment and we've seen that in small towns and big cities alike," Pai said in June. 

But others fear ending the regulations will stifle people's voices. 

That's why a group of students at Memorial High School organized an event at ECDC in downtown Eau Claire. On Wednesday night, from 4-10 p.m., they made signs, wrote letters and called representatives in the hopes of saving net neutrality. 

"I don't know about other people, but I think it's frankly terrifying to think that corporations could have control of the internet," Memorial sophomore Nazish Kahn told News 18. 

"If we don't have a neutral internet then what we see, and what we know about things going on outside of our small part of the world, could be not available to us," Violet Kilmurray, a senior, said. 

On Thursday the group will be back at it, protesting the FCC's vote outside of the Eau Claire Verizon store near the mall. Hundreds of people are expected to demonstrate outside of Verizon stores across the country on Thursday. 

The FCC will vote on the regulations on December 14. 

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