The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a rollback of net neutrality laws, and in protest some of the biggest companies in the world are taking a stance during a day of action today.
The protests range in arguably how effective they are, but the point is the same: the rollback of net neutrality laws could seriously damage the internet as we know it.
The protests are being lumped together in what's being called a “net neutrality day of action,” and there are dozens of companies taking part – including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Reddit.
Why are these giants of the industry being so vocal about net neutrality? There are a few reasons. For starters, limitations on what pages people can access could ultimately lead to fewer people viewing certain pages. For example, if you have to pay extra to access Facebook, fewer people will end up using Facebook, which is bad news for Facebook.
That's by far not the only reason, of course. Here’s a rundown of what net neutrality is, what the major tech companies are saying during the net neutrality day of action, and why all this matters to you.
What is net neutrality?
To understand what the day of action is all about, it’s important to know what net neutrality is in the first place.
The dictionary definition of net neutrality is: “the principle that internet service providers [ISPs] should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.”
Net neutrality is the idea that internet service – regardless of what's being accessed or who's accessing it – shouldn't be restricted. Without net neutrality rules in place, this unrestricted internet access is put in jeopardy.
What major tech companies are saying today
Facebook may not have done anything official today, but founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a note in support of net neutrality on his Facebook page.
“Right now, the FCC has rules in place to make sure the internet continues to be an open platform for everyone,” he . “At Facebook, we strongly support those rules. We're also open to working with members of Congress and anyone else on laws to protect net neutrality.”
Reddit’s approach is a little more ingenious than a simple note.
When you head to Reddit today, you’ll see a pop-up message that appears to load slowly, and reads “the internet’s less fun when it loads slowly, isn’t it?” Not only that, but the Reddit logo is also animated so as to look like it’s loading slowly. The point here is to demonstrate what throttled internet speeds could look like if net neutrality protections are rolled back.
Google’s protest against the rollback of net neutrality laws comes in the form of , which reads the company hopes “you’ll make your voice heard.” The search and tech giant stopped short of any prominent pop-up, banner or throttled speeds, but it’s position on the matter of net neutrality is still clear.
Amazon’s protest is a much more hidden than some others. When you head to the Amazon home page and scroll down a ways, you’ll notice a small section that reads “Net Neutrality? Learn More.” Click on that, and you’ll be taken to the , which reads prominently: Save The Open Internet. There's also this helpful explainer video on the page:
Twitter also posted a protesting the rollback, arguing net neutrality is extremely important in maintaining competition and in reaching global customers. It also noted that you currently “don’t have to be a big shot to compete” – a reality that could change for smaller companies if net neutrality laws are rolled back. Twitter's PublicPolicy arm is also promoting the net neutrality day with a special #NetNeutrality hashtag.
is slightly more in-your-face than a staid blog post. When you head to Netflix today, you’ll see a banner that reads “Protect Internet Freedom. Defend Net Neutrality,” along with a prompt to “Take Action.” Clicking on this will take you to the Internet Association’s page on net neutrality.
Mozilla has long supported net neutrality, and in celebration of today's event the company posted a nine-hour long video of narrators reading pro-net neutrality comments written to the FCC. It’s a slightly different protest, and a little bizarre, but it certainly sends a message, nonetheless.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), known for defending the rights of people in their digital lives, today posted a fake message from “Atcast” telling users they had to pay extra for the “premium bundle” in order to access the website.
Of course, another pop-up then explained the message is fake, but the message demonstrated what could actually happen without net neutrality protections.
Why does it matter to you?
Net neutrality is an increasingly important issue, and one that could eventually affect everyone who uses the internet.
Without net neutrality, ISPs like Comcast and Charter could throttle your internet access depending on the websites you use. So, for example, while you might pay $40 per month for a basic package, you may then have to pay an extra $5 just to use Facebook or Twitter. Or, you might have to pay extra to get a certain speed depending on the website you access.
That’s not good news for users, but good news for the mega-giant ISPs that could stand to make a lot of money.
But what can you do about all this? For starters, and click the button to “tell the FCC to keep net neutrality.” You can send your comments to the FCC to let the commissioners know you want the internet to remain open.
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