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Name.com Joins Nationwide Protest Against Net-Neutrality Rollbacks

Protesters at a net neutrality rally in July 2014.EXPAND
Protesters at a net neutrality rally in July 2014.

Name.com, a domain/host registrar that got its start in Denver in 2003 and today serves clients around the globe, on July 12 joined hundreds of Internet companies in a Day of Action protest of the Federal Communication Commission's proposed rollbacks of Obama-era Internet regulations.

The current regulations enforce the idea of "net neutrality," which Name.com spokesman Jared Ewy describes as "the principle that Internet Service Providers [ISPs] should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source." In laymen's terms, proponents of net neutrality argue that the FCC's regulations, which limit ISPs from favoring or blocking sites or controlling access speeds, are integral to keeping the Internet a free and open space. Without it, they say, ISPs could charge extra for better broadband speeds and limit access at their discretion.

Net-neutrality regulations have been a tug-of-war target over the past few years. In 2014, after a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling limited the FCC's regulatory scope, the FCC proposed new rules that allowed for the possibility of fast and slow broadband lanes. Incensed, companies like Twitter and Reddit launched a campaign to defend net neutrality.

As a result, and at the urging of President Barack Obama, in 2015 the FCC moved to classify Internet service as a Title II public utility; a federal appeals court upheld the classification in 2016. In a victory for net-neutrality enthusiasts, the court held that, like other public utilities, telecommunications companies and ISPs could manage Internet service but not control it.

A screenshot of the banner that popped up on Name.com's home page during the July 12 Day of Action.EXPAND
A screenshot of the banner that popped up on Name.com's home page during the July 12 Day of Action.
Jared Ewy / Name.com

But in May, the FCC voted 2-1 along conservative party lines to review the rules and determine whether the regulations inhibit innovation. Comcast and other ISPs like AT&T and Verizon certainly think so; in a statement, Comcast executive David L. Cohen wrote, "We support permanent, strong, legally enforceable net neutrality rules ... [but] Title II regulation and net neutrality are not the same thing."

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Ewy, like other supporters of the current net-neutrality rules, couldn't agree less. "It's common sense. We want to make the Internet an accessible place and even playing field," he says, suggesting that without the current regulations, ISPs could charge premiums for better Internet service. What makes the employees at Name.com love what they do, he says, is helping people set up businesses in as little as ten minutes, no matter their financial background.

Ewy emphasizes the importance of FCC regulations — not just nationally, but locally, as well. "Denver is growing and so are tech firms that benefited from net neutrality," he notes. He believes that the rules have helped spur innovation and foster the local startup explosion.

For the Day of Action, Name.com provided educational videos on its Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages featuring local techies and employees talking about net neutrality and why they support it. (The videos are also available on Name.com's blog.) And on July 12, a banner on the company's home page displayed an image of a much-loathed loading spiral alongside the words, "Without net neutrality, this loading icon will become a familiar sight," as well as information on how to share your comments to the FCC. That banner received 13,262 views on the Day of Action.

But Ewy foresees a lot more work in the future. "Things are going to get hotter as we get closer [to the FCC's decision]," he says. "We will take more action and have more ideas to crack out."

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