With the FCC preparing to close public comments on its net neutrality proposal, crowdfunding giant, Kickstarter, is teaming up with Mozilla, Namescheap, Reddit, Etsy, Foursquare, Vimeo, and other major Internet companies to raise awareness about the situation by declaring to be “Day of Action.”
According to The Verge, the protest is to warn its fans of the potential “Internet fast lane,” in which ISPs and online services may reach deals for better services and leave the rest of the weak behind. Each of the sites will post banners that will mimic a loading wheel to dramatize what a slowed-down Internet may look like.
Leader of the event, Engine, stated in a recent blog post, “Under the FCC’s proposal, Internet providers will be free to charge for access to special Internet “fast lanes,” leaving startups and others unable to pay these new tolls in slow lanes. In such a world, startups that can’t pay for fast lane access could see their sites slow down, their traffic vanish, and their funding dry up, harming the Internet and the economy.”
“For the Internet Slowdown on September 10th, many participating companies will install widgets on their sites displaying a revolving icon (a common signal of slowing loading content) to symbolize how the Internet would function in a world without net neutrality. Others, including Engine, will direct their users to call or email policymakers.”
Several of the banners, along with widgets, have been posted already by Fight for the Future backed project, Battle for the Net, Demand Progress, and other nonprofit organizations. Battle for the Net is known to support the reclassification of broadband until the Title II Common Carrier Laws that currently regulates phone services.
Co-founder of Fight for the Future, Evan Greer, said in an email to the Guardian, “Net neutrality is tough to explain to people, so we wanted to organize an action that actually shows the world what’s at stake, I think the three most hated words on the Internet right now are ‘Please wait, loading…’ Unless Internet users unite in defense of net neutrality, we could be seeing those dreaded ‘loading’ wheels a lot more often on some of our favorite websites, while monopolistic companies get to decide which content gets seen by the most people.”
The original Open Internet rules, were overturned earlier this year after a judge declared that the core principles, such as stopping ISPs from blocking or degrading the quality of services, treated companies like Verizon Wireless too much like “common carrier.”
Current FCC chair, Tom Wheeler, has specifically promised to keep net neutrality alive, but his proposal has received bad criticism due to it leaving open the possibility of speeding up services within commercially reasonable bounds. Wheeler has also steered clear of Title II reclassification and suggested that he can use language from this year’s court decision to justify it under rules on promoting “broadband competition.”
The Verge also reported Title II is often considered the best way to create Open Internet rules that will stand up in court. Wheeler’s option, Section 706, offers a shaky foundation for the lasting policy. The other option is for supporters to ask congress to pass law that codifies standard Open Internet rules.
Day of Action is set to be on September 10th, which is less than a week before the FCC comment deadline on September 15th.