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Federal Net Neutrality Protections End Despite State Opposition

Flickr user Credo Action / (CC x 2.0)
Sign from a Protect Net Neutrality rally in San Francisco, 2017.

Federal net neutrality protections ended Monday, despite Illinois lawmakers attempting to block the move earlier this year.

Democrats in both the Illinois House and Senate worked feverishly to get some kind of net neutrality measure passed ahead of the rollback, but to no avail. Its supporters say changing the Obama-era rules allows internet companies to prioritize some websites and content over other kinds. 

Ed Yohnka of ACLU Illinois says internet users should have the right to choose what they see.

“What this does is essentially give over that power to decide to a corporate entity, and not to the people who are actually looking for information.”

He says that spells trouble for free speech.

“You and I, throughout our lifetimes, have become accustomed to an internet that is open and free, in which everyone’s point of view is available and accessible, and we don’t let somebody else make a decision about whose voice gets heard.”

Yohnka says internet providers lobbied heavily against Illinois’ net neutrality attempts, even as Attorney General Lisa Madigan moved with other attorneys general to block the rule change. That lawsuit is still pending in federal court. ?

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.