The fight for net neutrality is in full swing following the Federal Communications Commission's announcement of its plans to reverse rules that prohibit internet service providers (ISP) from giving special treatment to some sites above others.
Early Wednesday, many web users were greeted on their favorite sites and apps with messages urging them to join the effort to protect internet freedom. This is because dozens of tech firms have joined forces in a day of action to protest the FCC's plan.
According to the demonstrations official website, if the FCC goes through with overturning net neutrality rules, they'll allow widespread blocking, censorship, extra fees, and throttling — which is the intentional slowing of internet connection by service providers to regulate network traffic.
This action will reportedly put big cable giants in control of what web users see and do online as it allows companies that can afford to pay the ISP to strip away service for local households and carry more bandwidth to themselves.
"Without these Title II protections, there’s absolutely nothing to stop internet service providers from censoring sites that they don’t like, from slowing down or throttling content from sites unless they pay up, or from charging users extra fees or requiring them to upgrade their internet packages if they are going to access the content that they’re used to being able to access for free," said Evan Greer, the activist leading the charge against the FCC's plans.
The net neutrality rules that restrict this conduct have been in place since 2015. However, the FCC's current chairman, Ajit Pai, is openly opposed to the regulations, hence his efforts to reverse them. According to Fortune magazine, Pai maintains that the rules amount to unnecessary regulation that harms businesses.
Several known and popular sites including Netflix, Reddit, Spotify, Twitter, and Airbnb are all participating in the day of action by displaying messages that raise awareness to users about the importance of net neutrality and encourage them to contact the FCC and express opposition to the controversial decision before the July 17 deadline, Fast Company reports.
However, tech bigwigs such as Google and Facebook have yet to make visible efforts to join the initiative despite previously pledging to, according to Fortune.
Google has posted a blog on one of its policy sites that expresses a stance in favor of net neutrality, but there is no blatant alert on its homepage or prominent link directing users to the blog post.
While these larger tech giants have previously announced their support of net neutrality, their more laidback response is likely due to the fact that they are big enough and have the money to negotiate with ISPs to ensure they aren't negatively impacted by any changes to the net neutrality rules.
Nevertheless, the Fight for the Future campaign page operated by Greer indicates that more than 80,000 websites, internet users, and organizations are doing their part to protect net neutrality regulations before the FCC rushes to rip them away.
We can only hope that power of protest is effective in keeping the internet free and open, particularly as society continues to move in a direction in which the internet is one of our most valuable resources.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Flickr, Backbone Campaign