Net Neutrality sparks protest
Today is “Internet Slowdown” day
(Story by Carol Thompson) Today has been designated “Internet Slowdown” day as businesses around the country protest the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rulemaking that would allow big companies to cut deals with broadband providers for faster access to consumers, putting them in an Internet fast lane and leaving many small and medium-size companies in the slow lane. It also means cable companies will decide for their customers which sites will load fastest.
Since May, the FCC has been weighing changes to its regulations on “net neutrality,” the 2010 rules requiring Internet service providers to treat all web traffic the same.
Under the proposed change, cable companies would be allowed to grant paying customers faster service, but ban them from slowing down, or throttling, the access of nonpaying companies.
Companies that rely on fast Internet speeds have banded together to promote consumer awareness.
Sites across the web will display an alert with a symbolic “loading” symbol (the proverbial “spinning wheel of death”) and promote a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House, according to the Battle for the Net website sponsoring the protest. Comments to the FCC can be made at http://www.fcc.gov/comments. All comments are public record.
In April, the FCC issued a statement to clear up misconceptions about the new rulemaking.
“The Notice proposes the reinstatement of the Open Internet concepts adopted by the Commission in 2010 and subsequently remanded by the D.C. Circuit. The Notice does not change the underlying goals of transparency, no blocking of lawful content, and no unreasonable discrimination among users established by the 2010 Rule. The Notice does follow the roadmap established by the Court as to how to enforce rules of the road that protect an Open Internet and asks for further comments on the approach.”
It continues, “Incorrect accounts have reported that the earlier policies of the Commission have been abandoned. Two points are relevant here:
- The Court of Appeals made it clear that the FCC could stop harmful conduct if it were found to not be “commercially reasonable.” Acting within the constraints of the Court’s decision, the Notice will propose rules that establish a high bar for what is “commercially reasonable.” In addition, the Notice will seek ideas on other approaches to achieve this important goal consistent with the Court’s decision. The Notice will also observe that the Commission believes it has the authority under Supreme Court precedent to identify behavior that is flatly illegal.
- It should be noted that even Title II regulation (which many have sought and which remains a clear alternative) only bans “unjust and unreasonable discrimination.”
The allegation that it will result in anti-competitive price increases for consumers is also unfounded. That is exactly what the “commercially unreasonable” test will protect against: harm to competition and consumers stemming from abusive market activity.”
- The notice concludes, “That all ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network;
- That no legal content may be blocked; and
- That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.
Today’s protest is being led by Netflix, Vimeo, and Reddit. Many online web companies are taking part in the protest, including Etsy, a website that provides crafters and vintage sellers a place to sell their wares.