All the Internet’s biggest names, including Amazon, Netflix, and even porn networks partnered Wednesday for a Day of Action to save the Internet as we know it, and defend net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the concept that all sites are created equal, and that a customer’s internet service buys them the right to access any website. An internet service provider is a utility company, like electricity or water. A customer pays the same rate whether they use the water to drink, or to wash their hands. The same is currently true behind internet connections. Customers pay the same whether they would like to access Netflix or Conservative Daily Post.
This is the guiding principle behind the Internet, and is what has made the Internet so powerful, and such a unique tool in our age. This concept was challenged in 2015, and an Obama-era legislation officially classified internet service providers as utility companies, and subjected them to greater government regulation. In return, the public gets free flowing access to information.
However, ISP’s have complained that the rules are “heavy handed and rife with uncertainty.” They would like to change their classification, making them “information providers,” allowing them to prioritize their bandwidth to certain companies—something like a cable company. Sites like Google, Amazon and Netflix would have to pay the ISP to have premium bandwidth, and if a customer didn’t have the right package to access the site they wanted, then it would either not display or slow down significantly.
Now. FCC chairman Ajiit Pai wants to roll back the Obama era rules, which will do nothing for the consumers or the public, and simply grease the palms of the ISP’s.
The argument against net neutrality is for a number of reasons. For one, streaming services such as Netflix, adult sites and others take up a huge amount of bandwidth, that ISP’s have to pay for. By charging these high bandwidth sites for premium use, ISP’s could charge lower premiums for customers who choose not to use those services. They also argue that if they were to charge websites more money, then they would make more money, and be able to be more innovative in what they can provide.
Perhaps. But, in the end, if net neutrality were overturned, the only people that benefit are the ISPs. Both in short term, and more likely, in the long term too. However, these companies have argued to the FCC that they need freedom from regulation, and that the nation’s most powerful tool runs on their wires, shouldn’t they be allowed to make ridiculous amounts of money off of it? The FCC at least hears them out, as the FCC does have a responsibility to protect the rights of ISP’s. Now, on Monday, the issue of net neutrality will go to vote.
This is why Wednesday, the country’s biggest internet companies, set aside their differences for one day, to bond for net neutrality.
Led by advocacy group Fight for the Future, a conglomeration of Internet companies urged websites and users to flood the FCC with protests. The internet giants included Netflix, Easy, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Spotify, Yelp, as well as PornHub, which runs a number of leading adult sites. Although, for the day, for the cause, the litigation and incidents based on unfair treatment of performers was put behind as everyone agreed net neutrality is the best thing for everyone. PornHub’s banner ad for the day read, “SLOW PORN SUCKS. Join PornHub in the fight to save net neutrality.”
Fight for the Future provided pop up ads and alerts for the participating sites to run to make users aware of the issues surrounding net neutrality, and to encourage them to make their voices heard. The ads included a mock warning the site site had been blocked, and then a message that this is what the user would see if net neutrality were overturned.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his own wall, “Right now, the FCC has rules in place to make sure the internet continues to be an open platform for everyone. At Facebook, we strongly support those rules. We’re also open to working with members of Congress and anyone else on laws to protect net neutrality.” The American Civil Liberties Union posted a pop up banner on its home page that led to an FCC protest page. The banner read, “Trump’s FCC wants to kill net neutrality. This would let the cable and phone companies slow down any site they don’t like or that won’t pay extra.” Reddit had a pop up message that loaded very slowly, and finally the words appear, “ “The Internet’s less fun when your favorite sites load slowly, isn’t it?”
Amazon put a small icon on its home page supporting net neutrality, and encouraging users to click to learn more. Twitter promoted #NetNeutrality and released a blog post stating, ““Net Neutrality is foundational to competitive, free enterprise, entrepreneurial market entry — and reaching global customers. You don’t have to be a big shot to compete.”
Netflix ran a banner above its home page reading, “Protect Internet Freedom. Defend Net Neutrality.” Vimeo released a video stating that viewers should, “join the fight for a free, open, weirdo internet.” Spotify ran a simple banner ad at the top of its app. Tumblr released a statement stating, “The new head of the FCC wants to undo the net neutrality protections you fought so hard for.”
And the list goes on and on as the entire Internet came together to fight for the freedom to be free. It was actually a rather inspiring movement. The FCC votes on net neutrality on Monday.