Friday, September 12, 2014

Internet Slowdown Day...

Yesterday was Internet Slowdown Day, essentially a mass online protest against proposed Net Neutrality regulations.  The typical Internet user doesn't pay much attention to F.C.C. rule changes, thus Internet Slowdown Day was designed to raise awareness among the general population about such rule changes in a comprehensible way.

And the protest is being launched by large and small websites alike.  Net Neutrality rules have always protected websites in the sense that they have guaranteed that all data traveling over the Internet is treated equally.  However, the F.C.C. recently announced its intention to remove Net Neutrality rules so that ISPs could start charging websites (what are assumed to be) pretty large sums of money in order for users to reach some websites - those who would pay - faster than others.  The fear is that this would create a "two-tiered Internet" where the most well-capitalized corporate websites would operate within a faster "EZ Pass" lane of data traffic while smaller websites would have to slog along through the muck.

Readers of this blog are aware that we strongly support the principle of Net Neutrality, even despite its often inaccurate portrayal by other supporters.  That's why it's somewhat surprising to think that the best we can do is create an Internet Slowdown Day where the protest methodology being employed is simply to ask people to sign a petition and email their Congressmen.  How unimaginative.  As a result, late-night comedians like John Oliver have arguably been more productive for the cause.

In the end, Internet Slowdown Day can only be considered a success if it demonstrably raises awareness of the Net Neutrality issue in the general population's consciousness.  Will anyone remember it by this time next week?  Unfortunately, the protest participants still haven't succeeded in defining Net Neutrality and explaining why it's important to the daily lives of most individuals, and thus it remains the venue of a niche group of devotees.  As Jon Stewart put it:  "Today is 'Internet Slowdown Day' protesting changes to net neutrality rules. Or as Time Warner calls it, Wednesday."



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