You might have noticed your browsing experience was interrupted by a call-to-action on Wednesday, July 12. Amazon, Netflix, Etsy, OKCupid and hundreds of other sites covered their loading pages with banners and images asking you to save the internet. Millions of us joined together to protest the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), heeding the call from grassroots activists across all corners of the web.
Led by President Donald Trump appointee Ajit Pai, the FCC is working to roll back rules that ensure the free and open flow of information on the internet. The body is attempting to undo the partial classification of the internet as a utility (meaning something every person has the right to have), and to massively expand the rights of Big Cable to lie about speeds and other services in order to make huge profits. These efforts pose a threat to net neutrality, the principle at the foundation of the internet that internet service providers treat all traffic equally. Net neutrality supports the open and free flow of information—without discrimination and without favoring content or services.
Make no mistake: Net neutrality is one of the defining workers’ rights and civil rights issue of our time. We all know the internet is driving changes in culture, politics and the economy. It is also one of the key spaces where workers can organize—and where mass movements for racial and economic justice blossom and build power.
If the activists’ predictions pan out, Wednesday might see one of the largest digital protests to date.Dozens of websites and apps have joined ranks with consumer advocacy groups, through a “Day of Action,” to publicly protest the plan by the Federal Communications Commission to roll back regulations it placed on Internet service providers in 2015.The rules enforce the principle called net neutrality — that Internet service providers shouldn’t slow down or block any sites or apps, or otherwise decide what content gets to users faster. The FCC, under Chairman Ajit Pai, is weighing whether (and how) to undo the rules that enforced net neutrality by placing Internet providers under the strictest-ever FCC oversight.
This is a fight we must win if we want a free and democratic internet:
A study by Maplight indicates that for every one comment submitted to the FCC on net neutrality (and there have been roughly 5 million so far), the telecom industry has spent $100 in lobbying to crush the open internet. The group found that Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) have spent $572 million on attempts to influence the FCC and other government agencies since 2008.