Thousands of sites protest European Union’s proposed Internet slowlanes

Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:41 PM


More than 7,000 websites protest with a slow loading icon made from Europe’s flag, to demand that European Union regulator BEREC get serious about net neutrality. “EU Slowdown” protest runs until July 18th consultation deadline.

On Tuesday June 28th, more than 7,000 websites are joining the “EU Slowdown” to protest loopholes in Europe’s new net neutrality guidelines. These loopholes would let European ISPs sell Internet “fast lanes” to large companies while putting startups and smaller sites in a “slow lane”.

To protest EU rules that would let ISPs slow down websites for profit, these sites are running a spinning “slow loading” version of Europe’s logo, linking to a form where people can submit comments to BEREC, Europe’s regulator. (In the US and India, millions of public comments were instrumental in winning net-neutrality victories.) The “EU Slowdown” protest will continue until the comment deadline, 2pm CEST on July 18th.

The “EU Slowdown” is being organized by Fight for the Future alongside other members of the coalition. Fight for the Future played a critical role in organizing the grassroots activism that helped win net neutrality in the US, including Occupy the FCC, Call the FCC, and the Internet Slowdown, a massive online protest in which over 40,000 sites drove over 760,000 comments to the US Federal Communications Commission in one day.

Many of the thousands of sites that are participating are members of the Internet Defense League, a coalition of sites formed after the global protests to stop SOPA that stand at the ready to defend the open Internet against critical threats. Now, this global coalition has less than 20 days to drive a massive number of public comments to EU regulators.

“In the US and India, unprecedented coalitions of activists and small startups came together to win net neutrality,” said Fight for the Future co-founder Holmes Wilson, “Now it’s Europe’s turn to win. Everything is on the line right now, and we have just weeks to make sure regulators don’t sell out Internet users to please the big ISPs.”

“If European regulators don’t close these loopholes, telecom giants will be able to roll out paid fastlanes across Europe,” said Fight for the Future co-founder Tiffiniy Cheng, referring to loopholes in traffic management and specialized services that allow such practices in the current draft guidelines, “European users will suffer the most—as sites they love are forced to pay for special treatment—but the impact on the open Internet will be felt globally, as telecom giants conspire with tech giants to silence competing voices.”

The EU Slowdown is being organized by Fight for the Future alongside other members of the coalition. Fight for the Future is best known for its role organizing the massive SOPA protests and the Internet Slowdown, that shifted the tide of the US net neutrality debate.