Fight for the Future and other pro-net neutrality groups plan June 28th online protest—recruit websites to participate in mass day of action to fuel awareness and drive public comments to EU telecom regulators.
, websites from across the globe will participate in "The EU Slowdown," an online protest showing people what the Internet would be like if Europe fails to protect net neutrality. Websites will display a spinning "loading" icon based on Europe’s flag and provide visitors with tools for easily submitting pro-net neutrality comments to BEREC, the European Union regulatory body currently deciding on the issue.
The day of action is being organized by Fight for the Future, the group that built the Battle for the Net and Internet Slowdown actions that helped to win net neutrality in the United States. The group has launched www.savenetneutrality.eu and is currently organizing websites to participate in the action. Mozilla, makers of popular web browser Firefox, has already begun encouraging its European users to file comments, at savetheinternet.eu.
In 2014, when Fight for the Future ran a similar campaign around US net neutrality negotiations, over 40,000 websites participated and more than 2 million people took action, setting a record for the number of comments received by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in a single day. Those comments were cited as influential in the the FCC’s decision to support strong net neutrality rules.
"Europe is the world’s largest economy," said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-director at Fight for the Future. "If we let Europe’s cable and telecom companies undermine the Internet with loopholes in the net neutrality regulations, it would be a huge hit for innovation and freedom of expression globally. We need strong net neutrality rules in Europe if the global Internet is to fulfill its promise and bring democracy and opportunity to the masses."
The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) is currently holding a public consultation period on their proposed rules for net neutrality that ends on July 18, 2016. Fight for the Future and other open Internet advocates, startups, investors, and academics, believe that BEREC’s proposed rules are not strong enough to actually protect net neutrality, and they are urging them to fix to fix several loopholes before they issue the final ruling.
Specifically, they are concerned that the rules allow Internet service providers to prioritize their own content, or their partners’ content, through "zero rating" certain content against subscribers’ monthly data caps. They are also concerned about ISPs ability under the rules to throttle entire classes of Internet traffic—things like bittorrent, video chat, or VPNs—under loopholes in the "network management" provisions.
"For too long, Europeans have been stuck with inferior Internet access because ISPs have been allowed to create fast lanes and slow lanes," said Holmes Wilson, co-director at Fight for the Future. "BEREC has an opportunity to bring Europe’s Internet up to speed with the rest of the developed world, but if they fail to close these loopholes they will continue to lag behind, and Internet users in Europe will be cut off from the social and economic benefits that only a free and open Internet can provide."
To participate in the June 28th Internet Slowdown, people who own websites, blogs, or Tumblr accounts can easily host a "slow loading" widget by embedding a line of code provided by Fight for the Future. The widget will pop up and greet everyone who visits sites that use the code, drawing attention to the issue and making it simple for them submit comments to BEREC urging the to close the loopholes and enact strong rules to protect the Internet in Europe.