Following a vote by the Federal Communication Commission Thursday, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are telling Alaskans not to worry, they don't plan to take advantage of the rollback of Net Neutrality -- regulations that forced ISPs to treat all websites and online content equally -- to boost profits at the expense of internet freedom. 

"They will [...] do stuff like censor the internet and slow it down, charge more for it," said Yvonne Begley during a rally protesting the move in Anchorage on Sunday. 

Some consumers are now concerned ISPs if left unchecked, could make them pay more to access certain websites and even censor content. 

CBS News reports, "While internet service companies say consumers won't notice a change, they have also lobbied for net neutrality's overturn, arguing that fewer regulations will allow them to innovate and deliver new services to consumers." 

Thursday, the Senior Director of Corporate Communications for GCI, Alaska's largest ISP, told KTVA, "We're just gonna go about business the way we always have, the way Alaska customers want us to. We hear loud and clear that they do not want us to, in any way, direct their experience. They want to own it and we respect that," said Heather Handyside. 

AT&T also responded to a request for comment with this statement: 

“For more than a decade, under both Republican and Democratic Administrations, AT&T has consistently made clear that we provide broadband service in an open and transparent way.  We do not block websites, nor censor online content, nor throttle or degrade traffic based on the content, nor unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic. These principles, which were laid out in the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order and fully supported by AT&T, are clearly articulated on our website and are fully enforceable against us.  In short, the internet will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has.  Despite the existence and the enforceability of all of these commitments, we have, since 2010, also repeatedly called for a non-Title II legislative solution that would make these consumer protections permanent. We continue to support a legislative solution and will work with any interested members of Congress to achieve that solution.”

 

While GCI and AT&T join other large ISPs in their promise to customers to maintain internet freedom, some consumers and activist groups are calling on lawmakers to step in. 

Following the vote Thursday, Governor Bill Walker tweeted: "A reliable and open internet is vital for a state as vast and geographically remote as Alaska. I am disappointed in the vote to repeal ." 

Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan released the following statement Thursday: 

“Now that the FCC has made its determination, I support efforts by Chairman Thune and members of the Senate Commerce Committee to pursue bipartisan legislation to ensure net neutrality principals – including protections against discriminatory practices – are codified into law. The FCC’s actions, which appropriately return regulatory authority of the Internet back to the Federal Trade Commission, represent what I believe to be a respect for the rule of law and an understanding that the FCC is authorized to act only within the bounds of the laws passed by Congress. For decades, the Internet grew and thrived, and access increased for tens of millions of Americans under a ‘light touch’ regulatory framework that had strong bipartisan support. As we move forward, I am committed to working in that same manner to ensure the Internet can remain fair, open, and accessible – and expansion can continue across rural Alaska – while still allowing for robust innovation.”

 

KTVA reached out to the offices of Senator Lisa Murkowski and Representative Don Young but has not heard back. 

KTVA also reached out to Verizon and Alaska Communications but has not yet heard back. 

GCI is the parent company of KTVA. 

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