Internet giants including Netflix and Reddit joined with advocacy organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Demand Progress to purposefully slow their web traffic Wednesday in protest of “fast” and “slow” online traffic lanes.
“Cable companies want to slow down (and break!) your favorite sites, for profit,” the top post on Reddit Wednesday by battleforthenet.com reads. “To fight back, let’s cover the web with symbolic ‘loading’ icons, to remind everyone what an Internet without net neutrality would look like, and drive record numbers of emails and calls to lawmakers. Are you in?”
The “Internet Slowdown” is a response to the proposed deregulation of internet traffic by service providers like Comcast and Verizon, as well as a call for enhanced regulation by the Federal Communications Commission to guarantee all web traffic be treated as equal. (RELATED: FCC Votes For New ‘Net Neutrality’ Internet Regulations)
According to the groups, Wednesday’s dramatic slowdown could become reality for much of the web if service providers are allowed to establish hierarchies of traffic speed, which opponents claim will force online content providers like Netflix and Reddit to pay more for an acceptable speed. Advocacy groups claim permission to do so from the FCC could shut Internet startups out of the market completely.
“If there were Internet slow lanes, you’d still be waiting,” a banner on Reddit’s homepage read Wednesday.
“If the FCC signs off on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s net neutrality killing plan to allow discrimination online, much of what we love about the Internet will be relegated to the slow lane, regardless of how we connect,” the Free Press Action Fund’s Amy Kroin wrote in a blog post this week, according to The Hill. The Free Press Action Fund also took part in organizing the event.
So far the FCC has received more than 1.3 million comments about the regulatory proposal and opened up for a second round of comments, the window for which closes on Monday. (RELATED: John Oliver Breaks The FCC’s Internet With Net Neutrality)
“This ‘technological McCarthyism’ is a dangerous game and has no place in broadband regulation narrowly, or tech policy more broadly,” the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s Robert Atkinson said in The Hill report, calling the Wednesday slowdown a “scare tactic” using “the imaginary boogie man of ‘slow lanes.'”
Companies including Netflix have already paid for such peering deals with providers like Verizon in order to secure acceptable download speeds for customers after complaining Verizon was intentionally throttling their traffic — a claim Verizon has repeatedly denied.