Technology giants like Amazon, Spotify, Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and many others are rallying today in a so-called “day of action” in support of net neutrality, five days ahead of the first deadline for comments on the US Federal Communications Commission’s planned rollback of the rules.
In a move that’s equal parts infuriating and exasperating, Ajit Pai, the FCC’s new chairman appointed by President Trump, wants to scrap the open internet protections installed in 2015 under the Obama administration. Those consumer protections mean providers such as AT&T, Charter, Comcast, and Verizon are prevented from blocking or slowing down access to the web.
Day of Action
Sites across the web will display alerts on their homepages showing “blocked,” “upgrade,” and “spinning wheel of death” pop-ups to demonstrate what the internet would look like without net neutrality, according to advocacy group Battle for the Net. But most of the pop-ups The Verge has seen have been simple banners or static text with links offering more information.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Twitter said that internet service providers are obligated to treat and transmit all bits equally, regardless of origin, content, or destination. It’s encouraging users to use the hashtag #NetNeutrality on its platform.
“Net Neutrality is foundational to competitive, free enterprise, entrepreneurial market entry... anyone with a great idea, a unique perspective to share, and a compelling vision can get in the game,” wrote Lauren Culbertson, public policy manager at Twitter.
Google also has a blog post up, stating “the net neutrality rules that protect the open internet are in danger of being dismantled.” Unfortunately this message isn’t being delivered via a Google Doodle or on the internet’s most valuable homepage.
Reddit, as you'd expect, is engaging in the most creative protest so far. A pixelated logo ploddingly loads in its upper left corner before begging users to upgrade their monthly bandwidth allowance. Meanwhile, a pop-up blocks the page with a message typed out at a frustratingly slow pace: “The internet’s less fun when your favourite sites load slowly isn’t it?” Meanwhile, trying to access Reddit’s /r/technology subreddit tells you that it’s “not included in your internet service package.”
Video game streaming site Twitch has a banner announcement on its channel page, while also replacing its global emotes with a spinning wheel for 24 hours.
Netflix, Spotify, and Airbnb have all placed banners at the top of their homepages, while Vimeo has an explainer video and graphics made available for download. Other websites, including Facebook and Amazon are participating, but haven’t yet disclosed what form their protests will take. Apple is not on the list of participants.