net neutrality rob bliss protest fast lane

Rob Bliss/YouTube

YouTuber causes traffic jam outside FCC building to protest net neutrality repeal

If you still don't get net neutrality, this video might help.


Phillip Tracy


Published Jan 29, 2018   Updated May 22, 2021, 2:55 am CDT

A lot of people still don’t understand net neutrality is, but one YouTuber‘s protest might help.

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed net neutrality laws, it allowed internet service providers to impose paid prioritization. These so-called fast lanes would allow wealthy corporations like Google, Netflix, or Amazon to pay extra for faster service to their sites, effectively shutting out the competition.

To protest the repeal of net neutrality, YouTuber and film director Rob Bliss created his own fast lanes on the street in front of the FCC building in Washington, D.C. He hopped on his bike, coned off sections of the streets, and rode down it at an extremely slow pace, causing traffic jams behind him. On his back was the opportunity many fear will make its way to the internet: A way to bypass throttling and hop into a fast lane. Bliss’ fast lane cost $5.

“Ask me about our 12th Street $5 a month priority access plan!” furious drivers read as they stared at his back going a few miles per hour down the street. He was honked at, yelled at, and even pushed along by one bystander.

It wasn’t long before the police arrived to see what all the fuss was about. They gave Bliss a warning and demanded that he stop causing problems. But Comcast and AT&T won’t bend to public demand, so Bliss went out again the next day, set up his cones, and pissed off some more people.

Eventually, the police camped out outside the FCC building and prevented the courageous filmmaker from continuing his protest into a fourth day.

“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,” Bliss told the Next Web. “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?”

Bliss, who you may recognize as the YouTuber who used Amazon Prime Now to help the homeless, recognizes the absurdity of his stunt.

“Special thanks to the Department of Homeland Security for having a tremendous amount of patience while I acted like a complete idiot,” Bliss wrote in the video’s description.

But he made his point. “If we won’t allow it with our automotive traffic then we shouldn’t allow it with our internet traffic,” he said in the video. “Support net neutrality and call your representative today.”

H/T the Next Web

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*First Published: Jan 29, 2018, 5:28 pm CST