LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- The FCC voted Thursday to begin the process of formally setting new internet neutrality rules.
The new rules are drawing criticism because some believe the plan, supported by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, will divide the internet into service for the 'haves' and limited service for the 'have-nots.'
Critics say it will allow companies to pay to be prioritized for faster internet.
Net neutrality supporters say that the average consumer will face higher prices and that free speech will be endangered if broadband providers set up high-speed toll lanes on the Internet.
Wheeler says the proposal has been misconstrued. He said the vote only starts a formal, four-month public comment period and that no rules were adopted.
Still, critics in at least 19 cities began their protests as soon the 3-2 vote was cast.
In Lee's Summit, a group gathered Thursday afternoon at the Federal Communications Commission office.
"We need the internet just as fast for us as it is for the business people and we can't afford to spend more money and that's what it would cost us if they have their way with it, so we are protesting it now," said Mazella White Boyd, a Lee's Summit resident.
"The salaries of the people are not going up," she said. "We can't afford to pay anymore and the big companies have the money to pay and it would hurt the little companies and the little people. And we cannot afford to pay anymore money for internet."