Many have tried to demonstrate how ending net neutrality (or as the FCC calls it “restoring internet freedom”) will affect internet users, but Rob Bliss, a YouTuber and activist, found the perfect way to illuminate the issue.
Rob took some traffic cones and his bike to the streets just outside the FCC headquarters in DC. He used the cones to make one lane of traffic which he could “throttle” using his bike unless drivers paid him a $5 fee to use the “fast lane.” It was a practical demonstration of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s claim that “consumers can pick the plan that’s best for them.”
For three days in a row, Bliss has tried to complete his protest and “restore automotive freedom,” but each day the police stopped him. Bliss said he appreciated the police officer’s patience as he tried to “sell priority access passes” to the drivers, a patience that he attributes to “great training and also experience due to frequent interactions with nonviolent protestors.”
Bliss described his demonstration, “Net Neutrality is a huge issue, it has the ability to shape how we think and see the world. The fact that it hasn’t really been well understood by the public is very concerning and what I was trying to address. By bringing internet traffic to real world traffic, a lot of the issues become immediately apparent. In the video I play the role of the ISP, and everyone’s response proves how society would never allow such behavior in the real world. So why should we allow it online?”
The officers eventually set up a constant presence to stop Bliss, saying that he didn’t have the authority to hinder traffic. Perhaps the DC police can have a similar conversation with the FCC.