Midwest Rug and Linoleum Co. of Springfield, Mo., is taking on the issue of net neutrality through digital billboards that say “Net Neutrality. Be Aware.”
"Most people have no idea what net neutrality is or that it’s an issue," store manager Rob Edwards told Floor Trends.
Edwards said he posted the billboard messaging to raise awareness about the Federal Trade Commission’s (FCC) plan to overturn net neutrality regulations, which went into effect during the Obama administration. The FCC adopted net neutrality rules in 2015 that prevented internet service providers from blocking or regulating legal content, as well as preventing providers from accepting payment to promote information.
“I’ve read about net neutrality, and nobody knows about it,” Edwards said. “I think it’s a way that the government get things passed because people are oblivious.”
The FCC aims to overturn those regulations and is expected to vote on the issue on December 14. If the FCC's proposed rules are passed, it would be seen as a victory for companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. Opponents say an overturn would hurt consumers and businesses.
If the FCC wins the vote, corporations may have more control over internet traffic, favoring larger online retailers instead of local businesses.
Midwest Rug has sold flooring in Springfield since 1947. Edwards said he usually steers clear of political messaging in his ads, and it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to change the messaging on the billboards about a week ago.
“Political messages can do as much damage as they do good, but whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, you need access to all opinions," he said.
Since the billboards posted, Edwards said store traffic has increased.
“It’s getting to be more and more,” he said. “The boards keep running, and it’s young people coming in because they are reading and understand what’s going on. We’re reaching a younger demographic.”
Edwards said he will change the billboard to “Merry Christmas” on December 6.
For more information, visit www.midwestrug.com.