Leading Internet Companies Plan Day of Action to Defend Net Neutrality

A net neutrality protest outside the White House in 2014. (Joseph Gruber / CC 2.0)

Dozens of internet-based companies are joining a protest against the Federal Communications Commission’s stance on net neutrality. On Wednesday, scores of businesses including Amazon, Etsy, Dropbox, Kickstarter, and Vimeo will come together to “sound the alarm” on the threat.

A website promoting the protest explains:

The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees. On July 12th, the Internet will come together to stop them. …

On July 12, sites from across the web will display a prominent alert on their homepage that shows the world what the web will look like without net neutrality. Below are “spinning wheel of death”, “blocked”, and “upgrade” alert modals; plan to use the one that best fits your site to encourage users to send a letter to the FCC and Congress in support of net neutrality. To use these them, you just need to embed a bit of javascript in the header of your site. …

And don’t worry, none of these will actually block, slow, or paywall your site. But, they will let your users submit a comment to the FCC and Congress without having to leave your platform. They will only show up once and users can click away.

The opposition largely stems from President Trump’s new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, who has been notoriously outspoken in his desire to end net neutrality. The Guardian explains that Pai “pledged last year to take a ‘weed whacker’ to rules that regulate internet service providers like any other companies providing utilities such as water or electricity, arguing they were too onerous on cable companies and stifled innovation,” and adds that the “FCC’s last discussion of open internet rules attracted more than 4 [million] comments, a record that has already been surpassed this time with more than 5 [million] comments so far.”

This is not the first time companies have protested net neutrality rollbacks, and Wednesday’s day of action promises to be massive, with dozens of companies already signed up in support.

The advocacy organization Electronic Frontier Foundation sums up the goal of the online protest: “On July 12, let’s give the world a preview of what the Internet will look like if the FCC goes forward with its plan to dismantle open Internet protections.”

—Posted by Emma Niles

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