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VidCon: YouTubers talk net neutrality

The end of net neutrality? More like the end of the world for YouTubers at VidCon

The end of net neutrality? More like the end of the world -- at least that was the prevailing thought during a Friday panel at VidCon.

In the wake of the FCC initiating a process to come up with new rules for an open internet, controversy has bubbled over provisions that would allow for the creation of a fast lane for data that companies could pay to access, putting the everyday user at a disadvantage.

During a panel titled "Our Biggest Fear: The End of Net Neutrality," at the annual online video convention in Anaheim, YouTubers Vi Hart and Emily Eifler discussed their concerns as content makers.

"I think one of the weird effects of net neutrally that affects my daily life is Internet speeds," said Hart, whose 11-minute video on the hot-button issue has tallied more than 500,000 views. "Just uploading a video... when I have to wait 13 hours for a simple video to upload that is symptom of problems."

Eifler, who runs the educational tech channel BlinkPopShift, stressed the idea that the rules would put those without bulging pockets at a disadvantage. Eifler said it also threatens competition by using the example of wanting to start a new video platform but not having the resources Google might have to pay, say, Comcast to host their own delivery service inside a Comcast netowrk.

"That would mean that only people who pay for Comcast service and people who wanted to watch YouTube videos would get much faster service than, say, my little video start-up platform," she said. "That just means any creator who wants to get stuff uploaded quickly would automatically go to Youtube and wouldn't be able to put content on other platforms. Meaning that those platforms would mathematically be less likely to get more viewers."

Michael Weinberg, vice president at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit Washington, D.C., public interest group involved with tech policy issues, said activation among the video community -- creators and consumers -- is key. Weinberg said Public Knowledge is working on assembling a form of YouTuber action with plans for a site to coordinate people.

"People who are in the FCC don't understand what is happening," Weinberg said. "People in the FCC are maybe aware of Netflix and have probably been forwarded a cat video on YouTube, but have no concept of the scale ... no one in Washington sees you coming. If you come together and act together, there’s a lot of push there. And it will be a lot of push going against an undefended client."

The possibility of an end to net neutraility was dubbed "Our Biggest Fear" at a VidCon panel on Friday.

Twitter: @villarrealy

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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