On September 10, some of the biggest and most popular sites on the web will participate in Go Slow Day. Among them are companies like Etsy, FourSquare, KickStarter, Mozilla, Reddit, and Vimeo.
Besides altering connection speeds, these firms will also install a widget on their sites to show how they believe the internet would look if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overturns “net neutrality” rules.
The aim of slowing down connection speeds is to simulate what the user experience could be like, without net neutrality protections. The goal is to protest proposed rules that would allow Internet service providers to create fast lanes for companies that can afford to pay.
Guardian also reports that under the ruling, internet providers could potentially slow a person’s internet connection unless he or she is willing to pay for a premium ‘fast lane’ package. This could mean a reduced service for many websites that would be out of their control.
How to participate
Go Slow Day starts at midnight on September 10, 2014 and for those that want to be part of this movement, visit Battle for the Net (BattleForTheNet.com), a website that is backed by Engine, a silicon valley lobbying firm. If you want to keep the web open, the website has some examples of the spinning wheel, fit with the necessary code.
Also included are instructions and directions on ways to share and spread awareness as well as links, plus tools to contact the lawmakers. The project also encourages Twitter users to change their profile picture to a spinning wheel on Sept. 10.
In an article from Mashable, Engine, which has worked directly with the tech companies to get them on board with the spinning icon plan, said in a blog post on Wednesday that Mozilla, Cheezburger, Meetup, Dwolla, General Assembly, Namecheap and Vimeo have also pledged to “go slow.”
Some firms may build their own widgets or banners. But the main function will be to encourage viewers to contact policymakers, Evan Engstrom, policy director at Engine, told Mashable.
Slate also shared that even porn sites like PornHub, RedTube, and YouPorn will become participants. However, a PornHub representative on Reddit was quick to note that it won’t actually slow down the porn—users will just see a big display about net neutrality when they visit the site.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality essentially ensures that all data on the Internet is treated equally. The Guardian explains that the FCC is currently redrawing its rules after a series of legal challenges from cable and telecoms companies undermined its authority to regulate the internet. One proposal could allow internet service providers to offer fast lanes to higher paying customers, a move critics charge would break net neutrality – the principle that all traffic is treated equally online.
This would result in two levels of services, fast lanes and slow lanes. Cable companies will have the option to offer faster speeds to companies that have paying power, ensuring content exclusivity by the dollar on the Internet. Content providers can then pay to have their traffic prioritized by broadband providers.
The screen grab below, taken from “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality (HBO)”, details the levels of download speeds for Netflix users while Netflix was in negotiations with Comcast, it’s Internet service provider. The dip in speed occurred at the duration of fees negotiations and download speeds skyrocketed once Comcast’s asks were met.
You can catch the video of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality (HBO) on YouTube here.
The FCC is also redrafting its rules as it assesses the proposed merger of Comcast, the largest cable company, with Time Warner, the second largest. The FCC is also reviewing a proposal to overturn state laws that ban some local municipalities from expanding their own high speed internet service to compete with the cable companies.
The FCC is also inviting both companies and net users to provide their comments at FCC.gov/comments for the next 120 days.
“With over one million public comments already filed with the FCC, much has been written about why the FCC’s proposed rules would damage the Internet, but the FCC needs to see firsthand how Internet fast lanes would devastate startups,” Engine said in a blogpost.
The Guardian reported that with over one million comments being posted on the FCC website to date, it’s systems actually collapsed from the strain at one point.
How removing net neutrality laws will affect the Internet
Wired has also published an article, based on a letter by Etsy CEO, Chad Dickerson to the Internet community. In his note, he sums up why we should all take action and be a part of preserving net neutrality.
He talks about how the future of online businesses is at stake, and we’re fighting for the basic principle that cable and phone companies should treat all websites and applications equally and without new tolls. And for years, cable and phone providers have lobbied for the right to charge companies a fee to reach users, creating fast lanes for those willing and able to pay, and slow lanes for the rest of us. Companies would succeed because of deals struck with cable companies, not because of superior products.
Google and Microsoft has also released data from their research, showing that delays of milliseconds result in fewer page views and fewer sales in both the short and long term. This is true not just for high-bandwidth services like video, but for any content delivered over the Internet.
Most startups work with little funding and will be most affected. One seller on Estsy, Beth in Oregon, said “If internet users find it too difficult to load our websites and see our products, it will be impossible for us to grow or succeed.”
The FCC proposal threatens any business that relies on the Internet to reach consumers, stream video, process payments, advertise services or products, speak their minds, or do just about anything else.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality (HBO), also termed this sort of behavior by cable companies as “Cable Companies Fuckery” and explains how cable company monopoly would hurt net users by making them pay more for their Internet connections. At the same time, the video goes on to explain that high fees doesn’t mean net users get better speeds or service, and in this instance, better content.
In closing, Chad Dickerson calls this an “all-hands-on-deck moment” and asks his friends in the business community to join Etsy and take action on September 10. He says, “Let’s get this done, so that we can all go back to serving our customers and building our businesses without spending the rest of our lives petitioning the FCC and cable companies for permission to innovate and grow.”