“Fundamentally, the issue here is that a few large ISPs decide which companies get to innovate and which ones don’t”
A “Fight for the Future” will rage today as 170+ major companies including Netflix, Reddit and Amazon plan to throttle their internet service to stand in solidarity with net neutrality protests.
These companies will alter their services to consumers to show what the internet may look or feel like if net neutrality is overthrown and certain companies are allowed extra speed or resources. It is unsure what the throttled service will resemble tomorrow or even when it will happen.
“It could be restricting access through bandwidth, limited content or availability and other kinds of interruptions, even popups temporarily blocking access,” says Chris Houston, founder of SurfEasy, a VPN designed to protect privacy. “It’s a little foreshadowing to demonstrate what the internet could look like if we treat the it the same as cable subscriptions.”
Net neutrality is a basic term used to support the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) should allow access to all kinds of online content equally, without giving priority speeds or resources to larger companies who may pay more. If net neutrality is reversed or altered, it may introduce a pay-to-surf-quicker model that will result in new sites and startups being overshadowed and forgotten due to slow load times or accessibility factors.
“Fundamentally, the issue here is that a few large ISPs decide which companies get to innovate and which ones don’t,” says Houston.
Under the Obama administration, net neutrality was a protected and valued right as the former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler fought to protect it. However, recent proposals by the new FCC chairman Ajit Pai are threatening neutrality once again.
Several resources designed to support and educate audiences about net neutrality have popped up. Fight for the Future is nonprofit and the first place to visit for info and updates about calls to action. The Internet Association is a Washington D.C.-based lobbying group that voices the concerns of companies like Facebook, Netflix and Google. The group has launched a gif-filled website designed to inform the public on the history of net neutrality and direct users to send the FCC comments supporting it. The FCC is taking public appeals until July 17.
Major protests supporting net neutrality have been happening over the past few years, most notably in 2014 when over two million people sent emails to Congress pleading to keep the net neutral. Protesters even camped outside the FCC offices that year to demonstrate, reminiscent of the Occupy movement in 2011.
“Sadly not the first time we as an industry have had to take this kind of action to bring this issue forward,” says Chris. “Hopefully this day has similar positive results as the last one.”
As of now it is unclear how big of an impact these large companies’ throttling of services will have, but it will surely send the public regulatory commissions a message.