Local businesses fear effects of net neutrality repeal

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Changes in net neutrality are putting a fear into local businesses.

"It's really just kind of smacking you in the face in terms of freedom of speech", said Eli Nicolosi, creative director and owner of Astute Web Group. "Because you're basically having to pay to play."

Nicolosi believes the change in net neutrality rules limit our freedom.

"It's very important to make sure that the internet is free and everyone has an equal chance to be on this so-called internet highway," said Nicolosi.

The repeal in net neutrality is giving internet service providers the ability to control the public's access to online content and charge for higher speeds.

"You're really turning something like the internet, which to most of us is like a library, a public library, you're turning it into like a bookstore."

Andrea Cook is in charge of marketing for the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She says charging more for certain websites will hurt local businesses because they won't be able to compete with large corporations.

"We rely heavily on our website as well as our social media site to get the message out there to visitors," said Cook. "I think if there's a limit to that, we would probably see a dip in our visitor-ship,"

Comcast argues that this change in rules does not end net neutrality.

In a statement, the company said "Comcast does not and will not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content. We will continue to make sure that our policies are clear for consumers and we will not change our commitment to these principles."

Whatever the effects are, this isn't the "American" way, said Nicolosi.

"We don't want to be forced to read or learn things that we're being pushed to by corporations. We want to learn things on our own."

In a statement, Representative Adam Kinzinger also expressed disapproval of the FCC's ruling, saying it is too much of a push toward large corporations.