FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 2014
Evan Greer, Fight for the Future,
Advocates call for symbolic ‘Internet Slowdown’ to show what Web would be like without Net Neutrality.
Battle for the Net groups representing more than 10 million people organize mass mobilization on Sept. 10 through creative online action before FCC deadline
On Wednesday, a diverse range of public interest groups representing more than 10 million people announced a day of mass online mobilization on Sept. 10 in support of Net Neutrality. On that day, numerous websites, social networks, online activism organizations and others will call on their members to contact Washington and demand real Net Neutrality protections. (Sites will employ icons that symbolize a slower Internet, but will not actually load more slowly.)
More information can be found at https://www.battleforthenet.com/sept10th/
There are many major tech companies and web platforms participating in the September 10th Internet Slowdown action. Those names, however, are currently confidential and will be released later this week.
Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission proposed rules that would permit Internet service providers to extract tolls from websites, discriminate against online content, and undermine Net Neutrality. With a Sept. 15 deadline for public comments about this proposal rapidly approaching, the organizations will urge their members to submit comments to the FCC in opposition to the proposal and in support of rules that would protect Net Neutrality. They will also encourage members to email and call their elected officials to urge them to demand the FCC implement real Net Neutrality rules.
To date, more than 4 million people have expressed opposition to the FCC’s proposal, including via the submission of far more than a million formal comments. Additionally, the organizations are urging website owners — from the smallest blogs to the largest online platforms — to participate in the activism. They can do so by displaying “widgets” available at https://www.battleforthenet.com/sept10th/ that will make it easy for those sites’ visitors to submit comments to the FCC. The widgets will symbolize slower content delivery by displaying the revolving icon – commonly used to symbolize slowly loading content – to demonstrate one way that the loss of Net Neutrality would harm websites and other online service. (The sites will not actually load more slowly.)
Those calling for the day of activism include: The American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, DailyKos, Demand Progress, Democracy for America, Democrats.com, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Engine Advocacy, Fight for the Future, FireDogLake, Free Press Action Fund, Future of Music Coalition, Greenpeace USA, Harry Potter Alliance, Media Alliance, MoveOn, National Hispanic Media Coalition, OpenMedia, Popular Resistance, Presente, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Progressives United, the Other 98%, RootsAction, Rootstrikers, SumOfUs, Voqal, Women, Action & the Media,
Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, said, “Remember when there was only one major railroad company, and just a few banks? That’s what Comcast’s proposal will lead to – a few dominant web companies shoved down our throats. Comcast’s proposal would relegate all the weird, alternative, creative, personal, interesting, and independent content that makes the web so much cooler than Cable TV to a nether world most of us won’t see. The FCC seems to think they can hide in their bunker in Washington, DC, but they’ve both underestimated the fervor of the Internet scorned. Since Comcast and the FCC continue to work on slipping paid prioritization through, we’re going to show the world what they’re really calling for. The Internet will fight to the death before it lets any government or corporation trample online free expression.”
David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress said, “The ISPs have invested tens of millions of dollars in their effort to undermine Net Neutrality, but we still have a chance of defeating them – because the overwhelming majority of Americans stand with the Open Internet. September 10th represents a chance for us to make that fact impossible to ignore.”
“Millions have made it clear that reclassifying ISPs as common carriers is the only way to ensure that the Internet remains a level playing field for all,” said Michael Scurato, policy director of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “For Latinos and other communities who have suffered discrimination at the hands of traditional media, this is crucial. Allowing Internet Service Providers to discriminate would come at a high cost, as history has shown that if diverse and dissenting voices can be blocked, they will be.”
“Millions already have spoken out against the FCC’s slow-lane scheme, but FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler seems to think if he hides out in Washington the public will lose interest,” said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press. “But the public outcry is only growing louder — and next week’s Internet slowdown will show millions more people what a world without real Net Neutrality would look like. If you claim to support the free and open Internet, you must pick a side in this battle. And being on Team Internet means you support reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. There’s still a spot for Tom Wheeler on Team Internet, but only if he heeds the public and changes course now.”
According to Evan Engstrom, Policy Director for Engine Advocacy, “Despite what cable companies want you to believe, net neutrality has been the norm in this country for most of the Internet’s existence, and it is one of the key reasons we have a strong startup sector driving the nation’s economy. The FCC’s proposed plan would radically alter how the Internet functions, slowing down all but the most well-heeled incumbent companies and pricing the next wave of innovative startups out of the market. If the FCC has any interest in ensuring that the Internet remains a viable platform for economic growth, it must reclassify broadband as a Title II service.”
The FCC’s proposal would be a huge boon for the cable companies, and would undermine the Internet as we know it. Under the proposed rules, cable giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to create a two-tiered Internet, with slow lanes (for most of us) and fast lanes (for wealthy corporations that are willing pay fees in exchange for fast service).
Cable companies would have the power to discriminate against online content and applications — they could pick winners and losers, shake sites down for fees, block content for political reasons, and make it easier for Internet users to view content the cable companies own.
But the FCC left open the possibility of issuing a stronger rule by reclassifying Internet service as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act and requiring Internet service providers to deliver all content at equal speeds.
The FCC is expected to issue a final rule as soon as the end of the year.