News

Online video stars mobilize for net neutrality

Online video stars mobilize for net neutrality

NET NEUTRAL: The video creators are signing an online petition that will be submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, which is now considering new "net neutrality" rules governing how broadband providers route Internet traffic. Some stars have posted videos about the issue to rally their legions of fans. Photo: clipart.com

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Online video personalities are joining together to advocate for equal treatment of Internet traffic, aiming to stop the U.S. government from allowing what they worry will be fast and slow lanes for delivering content.

The video creators are signing an online petition that will be submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, which is now considering new “net neutrality” rules governing how broadband providers route Internet traffic. Some stars have posted videos about the issue to rally their legions of fans.

Internet campaigns have impacted policy issues in the past. In 2012, a massive online mobilization of Internet users and major websites helped sink anti-piracy legislation.

Organizers hope the new effort, which they are starting to publicize on Wednesday, will raise the visibility of online video creators and the scope of their industry with regulators.

The top stars have built careers by posting videos on Google Inc’s YouTube and other platforms. While many aren’t mainstream celebrities, they reach millions of fans daily.

As of Wednesday, dozens of online personalities had joined the effort on www.videocreatorsfornetneutrality.org. Those creators represent more than 10,000 videos that have been viewed 5.2 billion times, according to the website.

“This is a huge community, and they will be massively impacted by this,” said Michael Weinberg, a vice president at consumer group Public Knowledge, one of the organizers behind the petition.

Another organizer is The Harry Potter Alliance, a group of fans who advocate for social change.

The FCC’s proposal, while prohibiting Internet providers from blocking content, suggests allowing some “commercially reasonable” deals where content companies such as Netflix or Amazon.com could pay broadband providers such as Comcast Corp or Verizon Communications to ensure smooth and fast delivery of their web traffic.

Critics, which include Netflix, worry that such rules could result in “slow lanes” for content from sources that do not pay. Video creators are concerned that such rules would limit the ability of independent producers to reach audiences.

The petitioners are asking the FCC to consider classifying Internet service as a public utility, a step advocates say would give the agency more power to stop potential net neutrality violators.

Among the advocates are YouTube stars Hank Green and his brother John Green, a novelist who wrote the book that was the basis for the hit movie “The Fault in Our Stars.”

In a video posted on their vlogbrothers YouTube channel, Hank Green stages a debate between himself as an Internet user, and himself as a representative of an Internet service provider. The video has been viewed more than 512,000 times.

Hank Green said he decided to speak out because “the Internet, and particularly the flat and neutral Internet, was the most significant driver of new economic growth of the last 20 years,” and he doesn’t want new rules to interfere with that.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Recent Headlines

12 hours ago in Entertainment

Judge rules Bill Cosby must stand trial on sexual assault charges

15-overlay-11

A Pennsylvania judge ordered entertainer Bill Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges over allegations that he drugged and assaulted a woman in 2004.

13 hours ago in Entertainment

Video gaming returns to TV with new league

gamingREUTERS

Competitive video gaming returns to TV with the launch of a 10-week gaming league that will be broadcast on TBS.

14 hours ago in Entertainment

Changes are coming to Twitter

twitterREUTERS

User names and attachments - including photos and videos - will no longer count towards the length of a tweet, but the 140-character limit will stay.

14 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Pink Panther’ star Burt Kwouk dies at 85

burtkwoukREUTERS

He also starred in numerous films, among them three James Bond movies including "Goldfinger."

15 hours ago in Viral Videos

WATCH: ‘Chewbacca Mom’ and ‘Star Wars’ director J.J. Abrams take a drive

19-overlay-7

Just three happy Chewbaccas having fun in a car together.