Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! had a post a few days ago about the Internet Slowdown day happening tomorrow, September 10, to protest the threat to net neutrality coming from proposed legislation in Congress. Netflix, Vimeo, reddit, WordPress, Kickstarter and others (including some seedier elements of the web) will be displaying annoying loading icons on their sites to warn of a possible future in which internet service providers (ISPs) could change the speed of the internet depending on your ability to pay.
To be clear: The internet will not actually be slowed down on these sites. Instead, a “spinning wheel of death” icon will link to a petition by Battle for the Net urging the Federal Communications Commission to use its authority to protect net neutrality. Battle for the Net is a consortium of different internet freedom groups including Fight for the Future, a nonprofit that emerged after the 2012 protest of SOPA and PIPA, which saw players like Google and Wikipedia protesting the proposed legislation. That protest worked, leading to the shelving of both bills.
Extreme Tech has a good overview of what the new rules could mean for the future of the internet:
As it stands, the FCC’s new rules on net neutrality — proposed back in May and currently seeking comments — would allow ISPs to create internet fast lanes. The idea is that, under the new rules, your ISP (i.e. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon) will be able to charge for priority access to its network. Conversely, if some companies pay for a fast lane, then the others — who perhaps can’t afford to pay for a fast lane — will end up in a slow lane. There has already been at least one high-profile case of a web service being dumped in the slow lane: Both Verizon and Comcast throttled Netflix’s traffic until it agreed to stump up some more cash.
Already, companies like Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon and AT&T spend millions lobbying Congress against net neutrality (around $15 million each in 2012 for Comcast, Verizon and AT&T). Some, like Google, also spend millions (some $18 million for 2012) lobbying the other way, but the balance is tilted heavily in favor of the cable providers.
If this means anything to you, head over to Battle for the Net to sign the petition, get code for tomorrow’s protest, or learn more about net neutrality and the issue at hand.