Netflix has joined the “Internet Slowdown Day” protest against the FCC potentially allowing Internet “slow” and “fast” lanes. Scheduled for this Wednesday, September 10, Netflix and other participating sites will demonstrate what a two-tiered Web might look like, by running simulated page-loading icons on its pages. Other websites taking part include the ACLU, I Can Has Cheezburger, Digg, Etsy, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Reddit, Upworthy, Urban Dictionary, Vimeo, and WordPress. Porn sites Pornhub, Redtube and Youporn will also be involved. Note: The slowdown will only be simulated, not actual—the spinning “loading” icons you’ll see on those sites are entirely symbolic.
The idea behind the Internet Slowdown is to galvanize public support to save “net neutrality,” preventing carriers from making bandwidth distinctions between companies who pay for carriage (fast lane) and those who do not (slow lane). The FCC has been struggling to redefine net neutrality after its old rules were struck down earlier this year.
Companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter have already been lobbying the FCC to save net neutrality. The idea of allowing Internet fast and slow lanes is being advocated by some major U.S. cable and broadband carriers, who would profit by charging a premium for higher-speed carriage.
Citing “Team Cable” (AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon) as the enemy, Internet Slowdown co-organizer Fight for the Future is trying to rally all Americans behind its September 10 protest. “Cable companies want to slow down (and break!) your favorite sites, for profit,” says a declaration on the organization’s home page. “To fight back, let’s cover the web with symbolic ‘loading’ icons, to remind everyone what an Internet without net neutrality would look like, and drive record numbers of calls and emails to lawmakers.”
Given that the FCC has shown itself open to allowing cable companies to charge for preferred fast access, the stakes are high in the net neutrality debate. Hence the timing: The Internet Slowdown Day protest takes place just five days before the FCC closes second-round comments into the net neutrality issue.