Supporters of vigorous net neutrality protections including Amazon, Reddit, Kickstarter, and the American Civil Liberties Union are gearing up for a July 12 “day of action” to protest FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s effort to relax the rules.
Web companies will use their sites to call attention to the matter. Many companies including Netflix used the same strategy in September 2014 when they lobbied for stronger open internet rules.
“We’ll provide tools for everyone to make it super easy for your followers / visitors to take action,” organizers say on a web site to attract additional supporters. “From the [Stop Online Piracy Act] blackout to the Internet Slowdown, we’ve shown time and time again that when the Internet comes together, we can stop censorship and corruption. Now, we have to do it again!”
Net root activism prevailed in 2015 when the FCC reclassified the internet as a phone-like communications service, subject to regulation to ensure that cable and telco service providers don’t play favorites — for example by providing speedier transmissions for some content providers over others.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia had ruled that the FCC could not enforce its net neutrality protections without that designation.
Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and other internet providers objected to the FCC move to regulate the web under Title II of the Communications Act. Pai now is championing an effort to undo the FCC’s reclassification, saying that it has deterred companies from investing in internet infrastructure and services.
The day of action, aiming to keep the current rules in place, “will provide a glimpse into what could happen if Chairman Pai’s plan becomes reality — where the gatekeeper broadband companies control access with impunity,” Public Knowledge Associate Policy Counsel Kate Forscey says.
The protest, she adds, “will be just one step in our vigilant efforts to defend this most essential platform for innovation, economic progress, and democratic discourse.”