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Web Firms Plan 'Slowdown' To Protest Net Neutrality

Web companies will be holding a symbolic slowdown next week to warn against what they consider the dangers of the FCC's proposed Internet fast lanes.

Web Firms Plan 'Slowdown' To Protest Net Neutrality
Battle for the Net
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A collection of online firms are planning to protest net neutrality next week by "slowing down" their services.

According to activist group Fight for the Future, sites including Mozilla, Reddit, Vimeo and Kickstarter will all be running symbolic loading animations to "give a glimpse into what the Internet might look like if the FCC's proposed [net neutrality] rules go into effect."

Participating sites are expected to incorporate various spinning wheels or "progress bars of death" like these to make their point — but there won't be any actual slowdowns. The co-founder of Fight for the Future talked to The Guardian:

"We wanted to organize an action that actually shows the world what's at stake. I think the three most hated words on the internet right now are 'Please wait, loading … '"

On May 15 the FCC voted 3-2 in favor of a proposed change in the rules of the Internet, which could allow ISPs to set up so-called fast lanes — granting preferential treatment to some Web content over the rest. (Video via C-SPAN)

Since then, the commission has been taking public comment on the issue — and the response has been overwhelmingly against the idea of fast lanes.

Analysis by the Sunlight Foundation indicates more than 99 percent of commenters on the FCC site are against the idea of fast lanes and support net neutrality.

And the unofficial support has kept pace — a couple months ago, John Oliver attempted to channel the collective vitriol of YouTube's commenters on the FCC's plan:

"We need you to get out there and for once in your lives focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction. Seize your moments, my lovely trolls!"

This week domain registrar Namecheap had a catchy appeal to the suits at the FCC:

"Don't flush our rights away! Don't make the people pay!"

And then there's next week's protest. Time points out it's looking a lot like the Web-wide protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act that helped derail that bill in U.S. Congress in 2012.

If lightning strikes twice, we'll know sometime later this month. The FCC will continue to accept public comment until Sept. 15.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.