On Wednesday, September 10, 2014, prepare for your internet to slow down. Well, in theory, at least.
Web activists are planning an online protest to press federal regulators for stronger rules to protect net neutrality. On September 10, websites across the internet will display an alert with a symbolic “loading” symbol (the proverbial “spinning wheel of death”), which symbolizes how internet traffic could be slowed down if the FCC doesn’t create stronger net neutrality rules. Note: none of these tools will actually slow your internet down, they are meant to bring attention to the net neutrality issue and urge you to contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Congress and the White House.
The term “net neutrality” refers to well-established internet rules which were created under the principle that all internet service providers and the government should treat all internet content and data equally, not discriminating or charging differently by user, content, site, platform, application, equipment, etc.
The FCC is currently mulling a proposal that would allow internet service providers to charge higher premiums for select content and possibly slow the connection and quality of other content. The proposal allows for the creation of, at the very least, a two-tiered internet system where one system would be known as the “fast lane.”
The biggest proponents of this new rule are cable companies, who stand to make record profits if approved. Corporations and special interest groups are also chomping at the bit for the chance to beef-up access to their content and stifle their opponents.
“What the FCC is proposing is the right to open the internet up to the highest bidder,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “Corporations that disagree with a controversial issue and special interest groups with deep pockets could effectively change both what you can see on the internet and the quality of your connection. The internet will no longer be an open medium, but one in which cable providers play favorites and the only content getting through are those belonging to companies and organizations who are willing and able to ‘pay to play,’ not one in which the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit.”
Democratic lawmakers are proposing legislation that would force the FCC to ban fast lanes on the internet. The proposal, put forward by Senate Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), prevents the FCC from allowing internet providers to speed up certain types of content at the expense of others.
Consumer advocates also suggest the FCC reclassify broadband as a utility, subjecting internet service providers to greater regulation.
The FCC has received more than one million comments on the net neutrality issue so far this year, with nearly all of the comments calling on internet providers to be subjected to stronger government oversight, according to the Washington Post. Due to the overwhelming traffic on the Commission’s comment website, the FCC has extended the deadline for comments for the third time – until September 15. The Commission is expected to decide on its proposal by the end of the year.
Tell the FCC to protect your right to a fair and open internet. Enter proceeding number 14-28.