As the September 15, 2014 deadline for public comments to the FCC neared, “net neutrality” proponents pulled out all the stops. As we mentioned in an earlier article, “net neutrality” is the concept that the government and all internet service providers should treat all data and all users equally on the internet; it is a fundamental aspect of an open internet on which all users can freely interact. Some powerful providers of telecommunications are seeking the FCC’s OK to alter net neutrality by allowing them to provide “fast lanes” on the internet: faster, preferential treatment to users willing to pay for it. The corollary to a “fast lane” is a “slow lane,” relegating smaller sites less capable of paying high speed-fees to a slower and ultimately controlled, blocked, censored and otherwise restrained internet.
Fearing the consequences of internet control by a few wealthy, powerful telecommunications providers, the public and groups representing internet freedom have made a concerted effort to stop that control. “Net neutrality” groups such as Fight for the Future, Engine Advocacy, Demand Progress and Free Press Action Fund assembled more than 40,000 web sites to show the public the results of a slowdown and spur them to action. Some of the participating web sites are “major players,” such as Netflix, Reddit and The Nation, though every web site’s stake in the “net neutrality” issue spurred massive recruitment.
On September 10, 2014, 10,000 – 40,000 web sites displayed a constantly spinning “wheel of death” reminding users of a slower internet’s effects, or a graphic, video or message reminding users of “net neutrality’s” importance. All participating sites provided e-mail access to the FCC for signature and submission of “net neutrality” support e-mails and/or a link to the FCC’s comment page and/or relevant phone numbers for calls supporting “net neutrality.”
The results of concerted “net neutrality” efforts were stunning: 312,171 calls were made; 2,332,092 e-mails were sent to Congress; and 777, 364 comments were filed on the FCC comments page, crashing the page. After the FCC comments page went down, “net neutrality” advocates advised the public that they could still e-mail the FCC @
firstname.lastname@example.org All in all, 4.7 million comments have been filed since March 1, 2014.
After the September 15, 2014 deadline for public comments, the FCC will further consider its Chairman’s proposed new rules allowing broadband internet service providers the “right to build special lanes” giving faster, preferential treatment to companies willing to pay higher prices for the enhanced service.
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