Thousands of Internet Companies Gear Up for Net Neutrality Day

Websites plan massive online protest for July 12 in opposition to proposed FCC rules rollback.

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A large number of prominent internet-based companies are gearing up for Net Neutrality Day, preparing messages against those who would revoke current internet legislation designed to protect online free speech and innovation.

As a deadline approaches for comments on new rules for how the government regulates Internet service, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, SoundCloud, Twillio and Alphabet Inc.'s Google said July 10 that they are joining the July 12  online "day of action" to rally support for net neutrality.

They are all actively opposing the Federal Communication Commission’s plan to scale back Title II, the legal framework for net neutrality rules enacted in 2011.

"The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online," said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, sponsor of Battle for the Net. "If they get their way, they'll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship and extra fees."

Companies participating will display prominent messages on their homepages on July 12 or encourage users to take action in other ways, such as through push notifications and emails.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.

The term was created by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier, which was used to describe the role of telephone systems.

Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, appointed earlier this year by President Donald Trump, wants to undo Obama administration policies through a new set of rules he calls "Restoring Internet Freedom." The deadline for comments on Pai's rules is Monday, July 17.

Pai contends that the government should move back to the "light-touch regulatory framework" that the Clinton administration put in place during the 1990's. "Under this framework," Pai said in a late-April speech announcing his new rules, "America's Internet economy produced the world's most successful online companies: Google, Facebook, and Netflix, just to name a few."

More than 40,000 people, sites, and organizations have signed up to participate in the effort overall against Pai’s proposals.

“This protest is gaining so much momentum because no one wants their cable company to charge them extra fees or have the power to control what they can see and do on the Internet,” Greer said. “Congress and the FCC need to listen to the public, not just lobbyists. The goal of this day of action is to make them listen.”

You can read the announcement for the day of action here.

The effort is led by many of the grassroots groups behind the largest online protests in history, including the SOPA blackout and the Internet Slowdown. The day of action will focus on grassroots mobilization, with public interest groups activating their members and major web platforms providing their visitors with tools to contact Congress and the FCC.

Other companies participating include OK Cupid, Kickstarter, Etsy, Reddit, Mozilla, Vimeo, Y Combinator, GitHub, Private Internet Access, Pantheon, Bittorrent Inc., Shapeways, Nextdoor, Patreon, Dreamhost, and CREDO Mobile, Goldenfrog, Fark, Chess.com, Imgur, Namecheap, DuckDuckGo, Checkout.com, Sonic, Brave, Ting, ProtonMail, O’Reilly Media, Discourse and Union Square Ventures.

Organizations participating include Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, Demand Progress, Center for Media Justice, EFF,  Internet Association,  Internet Archive, World Wide Web Foundation, Creative Commons, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Greenpeace, Common Cause, ACLU, Rock the Vote, American Library Association, Daily Kos, OpenMedia, The Nation, PCCC, MoveOn, OFA, Public Knowledge, OTI, Color of Change, MoveOn, Internet Creators Guild and others.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...