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From the editor: We may need Congress for net neutrality

Net Neutrality

The internet is in the news this week.

On Thursday, Dec. 14 the Federal Communications Commission will vote to repeal the net neutrality rules that were put in place in 2015. Net Neutrality (or the open internet rules) is the principle that Internet providers should make all content available at the same speed. The rules bar ISP’s from blocking, slowing or providing preferential treatment to specific content.

And with three of the five FCC commissioners opposing the net neutrality rules, the Business Insider says the vote isn’t in any doubt.

“This week, the Federal Communications Commission will drive a stake in net neutrality,” writer Steve Kovach says.

Defendants worry that decision could reshape the internet by giving a powerful group of telecommunications companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon a great deal of control over what we see and do online.

Both sides of the argument

The internet did work before the Democratic-controlled FCC passed the net neutrality regulation in 2015. And the Washington Post says after repealing the regulations, internet providers understand that it is in their own interests to maintain a level playing field.

But the—long—list of defenders say it’s bad for consumers, free speech could suffer and encourage consolidation.

Richard Dedor is a candidate for Iowa House District 19 and a follower of the net neutrality issue.

He wants the internet to remain free but says it’s clear how the FCC is going to vote.

“It’s one of those things where we have such a beautiful thing in the internet that I think we take for granted,” Dedor says. “I don’t want us to let that slip away but I fear that’s what would happen.”

Dedor called this a “National” issue and that it should be debated at the Federal level.

“The longer we can keep the internet free and open, the better it’s going to be for everybody,” Dedor says. “That becomes exponentially more difficult if the ISP’s are able to create tiers or fast lanes for content providers.”

Iowa City voices its opinion

During a May 7 episode of “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver introduced (which has since been shut down) as a movement to support net neutrality. It directed users to the FCC website where they could leave comments urging the FCC chairman to uphold net neutrality.

More than a million comments were left on the FCC website.

The Iowa City Telecommunications Commission submitted a letter to the FCC with support from the City Council saying Iowans who rely on the open internet are poised to suffer from the rollback.

It asks for a legislative solution and that the current rules stay in place to protect consumers.

The letter closes with:

“Please keep the internet open and free.”

Net Neutrality
A a poster from Carlisle High School on net neutrality. Photo courtesy of DeShawn Garrett.

From the classroom

During a Web Publishing class at Carlisle High School, Kacey Flaws had her students do a current events activity on net neutrality.

She said after students were introduced to both sides of the argument, “There was overwhelming support for net neutrality.”

” I was sort of surprised to find that most of the students hadn’t heard much about net neutrality and didn’t know what it was,” Flaws said. “Only about a quarter of the kids in class said they had a slight idea of what it meant.

“After reading about and discussing with their classmates, most kids were shocked it is even something to debate.”




From the editor: We may need Congress for net neutrality | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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