Possible Repeal of Net Neutrality Has Some North Dakotans Concerned

Bismarck - Whether you're scrolling through your smart phone, or powering up your computer, many Americans use the internet every single day.

But with a new vote by the Federal Communications Commission set to roll back current net neutrality rules.

Under the Obama Administration, the FCC enacted net neutrality, prohibiting internet service providers from charging different rates for specific websites and online content.

But now, with recent plans rolled out to eliminate the rule entirely, some North Dakotans are wondering if how they use the web could soon be a thing of the past.

Whether they're clicking, scrolling, or surfing, North Dakotans are connected.

And Mike Renner is just one person who relies on access to the internet to do his job.

"Many times a client will come to us and they want to have a strong and visible presence on the internet and we help them get to that place," Mike Renner, owner of Up and Running Web Design says.

You see, Mike builds web pages.

He spends his days creating content for businesses and helps them stay connected.

But he says, losing net neutrality could jeopardize how he and his clients access the internet.

"Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers who bring internet into our homes and businesses must treat all content equally," Renner says.

The principle is like this, if the internet was a road, under net neutrality, no matter what you drive or where you go, everyone has equal access to the same road.

"By losing our current net neutrality guidelines, we open the doors for corporations or special interests to co-op the internet and use it as a vehicle for their agenda," Renner says.

Without the principle, opponents of the rollback say internet providers could limit your access to certain sites and possibly charge you more to use sites that take up a lot of broadband, like Netflix, and other streaming services.

"I really think this whole thing is all about money and it's not proper for the American people," Craig Niess, production specialist says.

But the FCC says, by eliminating net neutrality, it's simply rolling back regulations and strengthening competition and investment in rural and under served areas.

But for guys like Mike, rolling back net neutrality goes way beyond money.

"Net neutrality is a free speech issue -- online by losing net neutrality we risk losing that essential property of the interne," Renner says.

And opening up the possibility that access to the internet won't be so open in the future.

The FCC will vote in December on whether or not to keep net neutrality all together.

And, while Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has voiced her concerns about repealing the rule,  Republican Sen. John Hoeven says rolling back net neutrality is the right step in ensuring the internet continues to attract investment and promote innovation.

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