Your Internet experience will probably suck worse than usual on Wednesday. It’s part of a coordinated “day of action” to protest planned changes that would reduce the enforcement of net neutrality.
Back in May the Federal Communications Commission, which has changed both its leadership and political make-up since the last US elections, formally proposed reclassifying (or rather re-reclassifying) broadband such that the commission’s own powers to regulate it are heavily reduced. That and other regulatory changes would in turn make it much less likely the net neutrality principle will be applied.
With the deadline for public comments on the proposals coming next month, several major websites including Amazon, Netflix, Kickstarter and Vimeo plan to publicize the issue with simulated slowdowns. In most cases the service itself won’t be affected, but there’ll be pop-up messages explaining how it’s possible that without net neutrality. ISPs could slow down access to some sites but not others – based, for example, on whether the companies are prepared to pay access fees. Meanwhile social media sites will encourage users to share a series of GIFs of loading screens.
The campaign will encourage users to visit a dedicated web page that includes an automated form for sending letters (either template or personalized) to the FCC and relevant Congress members.
It could turn into a social media battle however. The BBC reports that cable companies include Comcast plan to share and promote social media posts that say they support the principle of net neutrality but that the FCC reclassification is necessary to remove excessive regulation.