Tech Giants and Activists Plan Net Neutrality Day-of-Action for July 12th
Net neutrality is what makes the internet great! And considering the silence and lack of grassroots outrage, it seems like something people take for granted. But net neutrality faces a major attack from the new leadership at the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC). Soon, the internet we all know and love could become a distant memory.
When I was a kid searching the internet for weird stories and off-the-wall conspiracies (and illegal music), I feared for the day our free and open internet vanished. And now, as the editor of an independent news outlet, it’s something I’m literally losing sleep over. Here’s how it works, what’s happening, and who’s trying to stop it…
Net neutrality supports a “free and open” internet. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his colleagues have made it their mission to overturn this law. Which essentially would put your internet service providers in control over the content you consume. It takes power away from both consumers and website owners and transfers that power to internet service providers. Who then decide how fast websites load for consumers. Of course, websites with the most money could pay to be in the “fast lane” with faster load times. Since independent websites don’t have that kind of cash they’re essentially doomed. Cause who will wait 30 minutes for a website to load?!
Right now, website owners and developers work very hard trying to rank well in Google and other search engines. It’s also a major challenge trying to “beat” the social media algorithms and getting readers to actually see your content. We also have control over how fast our websites load in a number of ways. If net neutrality is overturned, none of this will matter any longer.
Take a second and think about all the apps you use that require WiFi: WhatsApp, YouTube, Etsy, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Soundcloud, the list is endless! People aren’t exactly sure how removing net neutrality will affect these types of platforms, but they’re sure it won’t be good. Not for the companies and not for consumers either. What if you had to pay an extra fee each month to your ISP for Facebook access? What if you had to do that for every app that requires internet access? This could potentially make simple internet access completely unaffordable for a large percentage of the population.
You would think indie outlets would be leading the fight against the FCC– since they have the most to lose. I know I would be devastated if I couldn’t keep my website running or write anymore. But most outlets have been shockingly silent. Tech giants on the other hand have finally stepped in and planned a day-of-action in support of net neutrality on July 12th. YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, Google, Amazon, Etsy and many more have agreed to protest in some form. After all, these websites rely on consumer accessibility to run and make a profit. Plus they’ll end up having to pay extra fees to your ISP– which we all know the consumers will end up paying for in the long-run.
Back in May, the FCC voted to start the process of overturning net neutrality. Now, the public (and companies) have until July 17th to air their grievances. After that, the FCC will decide if and how they’ll start dismantling net neutrality. The entire process could take years. It will most likely involve lawsuits and appeals proceedings from both states and companies– companies that have a lot of capital behind them like Facebook for example. But it gets dirtier… Ever since the FCC opened for public comment, millions of fake accounts sprung up speaking out against net neutrality. This is all a big mess no matter which way you look at it.
The public interest group The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) has also filed a Freedom of Information Request with the FCC. Since the FCC claims net neutrality hurts consumers (ha!) they want to see the numbers to prove it. Their action could result in the postponement of any further action against net neutrality.
So what can you expect on July 12th? Probably slow load speeds from your favorite platforms and websites. Or you could see a major internet blackout making websites unacceptable. Either way, expect the internet to be a huge pain in the a** all day. So don’t complain, it’s for our own good. Instead, find a way to participate. If you run a website, find a way to participate in the plan of action like going “black.” You can also tweet @FCC using the hashtag #netneutrality.