The US Federal Communications Commission, under Republican Ajit Pai, plans to scrap strict open Internet protections put in place by former President Barack Obama’s administration.
Protest activists say this would allow Internet service suppliers to slow down or block access to specific web content.
A website called Battle for the Net, set up by liberal advocacy groups Free Press, Fight for the Future, and Demand Progress, is rallying the Internet and representing ground zero for the protest.
The website says those who sign its petition supporting net neutrality are “Team Internet”, fighting against Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T, or “Team Cable.”
Google and Facebook, along with Twitter, Mozilla, OkCupid, PornHub, Etsy, Kickstarter, Reddit and WordPress, are among those participating in the “Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality”.
The tech giants, along with smaller companies and activists, plan to inform their users of what they describe as a threat to Internet freedom.
Twitter launched the day with a blog postaround midnight that claimed it is “entirely possible” the company would not have survived without strong open-internet rules.
“The FCC should abandon its misguided effort to obviate all the work that has been done on behalf of all Internet users,” read the post.
Twitter even made a specialized hashtag for the day that adds the protest’s de facto logo: a loading icon.
The Internet Association, a Washington, DC-based lobbying group for several Silicon Valley corporations, has been working to bring attention to the issue by creating an advocacy page.
Several of the association’s members, including Netflix, said it would share the page with its customers.
On Tuesday night, Spotify added a banner on its US home page directing users to the IA site, and popular streaming platform Twitch sent users to it via a tweet.
However, many fear that not enough attention has been brought to the issue.
In 2015 as a commissioner, Mr Pai voted against a plan passed by Democrats to safegaurd net neutrality by placing traditional telephone company rules on broadband suppliers. Pai considered the laws too imposing.
On his part, FCC Chairman Pai wishes to due away with the Obama-era protections to eradicate regulations on the telecom industry. This includes corporations such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.
Pai says this frees the Internet from interference.
Activists say this will allow the corporations to potentially have control over users Internet content.
The FCC, at the moment, is seeking public opinion until July 7.
US Democratic Sen Al Franken has been very vocal about net neutrality and its importance.
Mr Franken previously said that “net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time.”
Several Democratic Senators have urged the FCC to not change the rules
Republicans say they are for a free and open Internet, but are against regulation Democrats say keep the Internet open.
A statement from the Competitive Enterprise Institute says this:
“[These] regulations harm consumers because they prevent ISPs from experimenting with the network configurations and pricing models that serve consumers best. Instead of regulating how broadband service is provided, Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and governments at all levels should promote competition by making more spectrum available for commercial use and by reducing barriers to deploying wireline infrastructure.”
Charles Sauer wrote in the right-leaning Fox News Opinion section that the debate of net nuetrality “at its roots, is about a difference of opinion regarding how best to regulate the Internet”, citing two sides.
Mr Sauer says there is a “let the economic chips fall where they may attitude” and a “liberal, government control is key attitude”.
Internet-based grass-root activist groups such as the Berning Media Network and the Independent Media Union are joining in on the protest day.
Changing their social media profile pictures to a purple loading symbol, BMN, IMU, The People’s Movement, and other online press and activist groups are informing their followers about the issue at hand.
The People’s Movement said in a statementposted online that the “right to the free and open internet is under attack.”
The group claims the “internet without Net Neutrality isn’t really the internet.”
“Unlike the open internet that has paved the way for so much innovation and given a platform to people who have historically been shut out, it would become a closed-down network where cable and phone companies call the shots and decide which websites, content or applications succeed.”
The statement issues the warning that “democracy is at stake right now!”
The Independent Media Union, founded by a coalition of small advocacy and press agencies, wrote in a press release that “net nuetrality is one of the cornerstone’s of modern democracy.”
Image of Net Neutrality graphic from Free Press on Twitter.
Article Published by: The New Union
Written by: Eli Ridder