Global websites to join net neutrality protest tomorrow

Netflix, Amazon and Reddit are just some of the sites that will slow down their services tomorrow

Global websites to join net neutrality protest tomorrow

Image: Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images

Some of the world’s most recognisable websites are preparing to join an online “day of action” to protest against proposed new internet regulations in the US.

The 170 organisations involved in the protest – including Amazon, Reddit and Netflix – are preparing to choke their own websites tomorrow, Wednesday July 12th as a warning against new proposals from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The companies are claiming that the proposals - deregulating how internet service providers (ISPs) are obliged to treat customers - will “destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online.”

The group has claimed the proposals will see “widespread throttling, blocking and censorship” of websites as well as extra fees for customers.

Open Internet Order

The FCC is proposing to remove the ‘Open Internet Order’ – introduced under former US President Barack Obama – which includes a rule requiring ISPs to maintain internet connections of a certain speed to everything their customers wish to access.

FCC chairman, Ajit Pai has said the legislation had place an increased regulatory burden on ISPs and has resulted in reduced investment in Broadband infrastructure.

He has called for a return to previous rules which involve less government oversight of the sector.

Mr Pai’s proposals have received strong support from US cable companies – who have insisted that repealing the Obama legislation will not affect net neutrality protections.

Net neutrality

However, not everyone agrees – with 70,000 people, websites and organisations involved in tomorrow’s online protest.

Protest organisers have warned that if the FCC succeeds in weakening or eliminating the legislation – broadband companies will be free to slow web traffic, block rival internet content, censor unpopular viewpoints and charge extra fees.

Social media users have been urged to share pictures supporting the protest. Image: 

Websites will tomorrow display prominent messages on their homepages encouraging users to take action.

The sites will have messages like “we’re stuck in the slow lane” and “this website has been blocked” to demonstrate the potential effect of removing the legislation.

Example of warnings to be displayed on major websites tomorrow. Image: 

Contacting Congress

Visitors to the websites will be encouraged to contact US Congress and the FCC to outline their opposition to the plans.

The FCC has reportedly already received well over 5 million comments on the issue – and organisers are hoping a huge public outcry can convince lawmakers to change their plans.


Online protests

It is not the first time large websites have become involved in online protests against proposed new regulations.

In 2012, an online protest included Google and Wikipedia replacing their websites with pages protesting the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Another slowdown in 2014 took place to highlight net neutrality issues. Organisers claimed more than 2,030,000 individuals took part in the protest, sending over 2,300,000 emails to members of Congress to convince their legislators to protect net neutrality.

That protest ultimately resulted in the Open Internet Order the FCC is now proposing to replace.