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September 12th, 2014

Internet Slowdown Shifts Into High Gear

Internet users spoke loudly, firmly, and in no uncertain terms on Wednesday in sending a message of overwhelming support for net neutrality protections during the Internet Slowdown campaign.

Tech companies, websites, public interest organizations and more than a million users joined forces to bring the message of net neutrality forward by posting icons and links on their sites symbolically representing a slow-loading Internet, and by directing those clicking on the links to messages to Congress, the White House and the Federal Communications Commission.

“The numbers tell the story: People everywhere are using the Internet to save the Internet from phone and cable companies,” said Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future. “We’ve shown that the best way to fight these powerful special interests in Washington is through mass action by people from outside Washington. The FCC and Congress can no longer dismiss the overwhelming consensus of public support for real Net Neutrality protections.”

Wednesday’s Internet Slowdown action generated just over 300,000 calls and nearly 2.2 million emails to Congress by Thursday afternoon. Facebook shares of the spinning “loading” icon topped 1.1 million. In addition, 722,364 filed comments Wednesday at the Federal Communications Commission, bringing the total number of comments since March 1 to 7.7 million.

According to a release provided by Fight for the Future, the volume of comments on Wednesday overwhelmed the FCC’s servers during the course of the day. Fight for the Future said it is in contact with the FCC’s tech team and is working out a solution to ensure that every comment is filed properly.

tumblr_pageMore than 10,000 websites — including industry giants such as Google and Netflix — had an Internet Slowdown presence on their sites. Blogging/photo platform Tumblr posted a series of spinning wheels on their site, and drove 70,000 calls to Congress before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Fight for the Future. The wide range of participants in the action included Kickstarter, Upworthy, Foursquare, Meetup, Cheezburger, Grooveshark, and BoingBoing.

Online craft sales leader Etsy also provided an unequivocal message to their 30 million members on their front page, providing a space where those visiting the site could fill in a form and have the site call Congress on their behalf.

internet slowdownEarlier this month, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson wrote an opinion piece for Wired.com regarding net neutrality and Wednesday’s mass action, where he stated that net neutrality is vital to the survival of his company. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for the business world, because the future of the Internet is the future of American business,” he wrote.

David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, said that Wednesday’s action was the biggest day of online activism “since the Internet Blackout of 2012, when people rejected SOPA and PIPA copyright bills. As the FCC decision on net neutrality approaches, Internet users will continue to speak out in numbers and with a message that will be impossible to ignore.”

That sentiment was echoed by another leader in the effort, when the Free Press Action Fund president Craig Aaron said that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has no choice but to heed the call.

“[Wheeler] must now listen to the public, abandon his pay-to-play plan, and pursue the best and only path to net neutrality protections — by reclassifying Internet service providers as common carriers,” Aaron said.

Fight for the Future plans an encore action on Monday, Sept. 15 — the final day to comment to the FCC on net neutrality — in the form of lunchtime rallies in New York City and Philadelphia to save net neutrality and fight the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.

Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

2 comments to Internet Slowdown Shifts Into High Gear

  • lozz

    Can’t Congress understand that they are slowly cutting the US off from the international internet and costing US business potential revenue?

    I’ve long abandoned my well-loved Fedora for a non-US sourced distro to avoid potential insecurities arising from back-doors introduced by the accursed US NSLs. If I’m doing that, just think what international big business, with so much more to lose, will be doing.

    In actual fact, entire countries have been abandoning US sourced software for locally sourced, Linux-based, products with proper security guaranteed. Still, Congress puts its fingers in its ears and insists that all is well.

    Right now, if FlagFox indicates that a site has its servers in the US, I regard that as a black mark against that site because of all the fanatical government sanctioned spying that persists in all communications that pass through the US. Just imagine how international big business feels about this gratuitous insecurity.

    If, in the future, I start associating that American flag with an internet that runs with all the speed of frozen treacle, unless I’m trying to access some major corporation, I’m going to flick to a similar site in another country where I can get better service without getting spied upon.

    Still, Congress will refuse to listen, because those major corporations, which are hoping to make large profits from slowing down the internet for most users, are also the same ones paying large bribes to compliant Congress members for re-election.

    A few greedy corporations and their greedy Congress critters will ensure that short-term gain will become long-term pain for US business.

  • Colonel Panik

    @ lozz Great comment to the FSG post!
    Thank you for that FlagFox suggestion.