Amazon, Reddit, advocacy groups plan day of action for net neutrality

Amazon, Mozilla, Y Combinator and Reddit are joining forces with advocacy groups for a day of protest to try to keep the FCC from rolling back net neutrality rules.

They’re hoping July 12 will be as successful as previous internet-related actions.

The net neutrality rules that are now in danger because of a changing of the guard at the White House and the FCC were put in place after a massive campaign that included a record amount of comments at the time — nearly 4 million — being submitted to the Federal Communications Commission a couple of years ago.

Also, this new effort is being led by many of the same public-interest groups that five years ago successfully beat back anti-piracy legislation — best known as SOPA and PIPA — that could have led to government overreach and censorship on behalf of the music and recording industries. A blackout day that included Google blacking out its search page logo, Wikipedia going dark and offline protests managed to get the legislation shelved.

“The internet won’t go down quietly in 2017 and on July 12 people, companies, organizations and websites will let everyone know that the Trump FCC lacks a public mandate to take away our online rights,” Free Press Campaign Director Candace Clement said in a news release. “We will make it impossible for Chairman Pai to continue to cling to the sorts of alternative facts against net neutrality that we’ve proven to be wrong time and again.”

Net neutrality is the principle that all online traffic should be treated equally. Under the rules passed in 2015, cable and internet companies are prohibited from establishing fast and slow internet lanes by favoring certain content. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed rolling back the rules, which he says are a government overreach and hinder innovation and broadband investment.

But net neutrality proponents say net neutrality enables innovation. Vimeo, the online video provider, is on board for the campaign.

“Net neutrality made it possible for Vimeo, along with countless other startups, to innovate and thrive,” said Michael Cheah, general counsel for Vimeo, in the news release. “The FCC’s proposed rollback of the 2015 open Internet rules threatens to impede that innovation and allow a handful of incumbent ISPs to determine winners and losers.”

Mozilla released results of a poll Tuesday showing overwhelming support for net neutrality from both Democrats (81 percent) and Republicans (73 percent). The poll also showed that 70 percent of Americans do not trust the Trump administration to protect the internet, and that 78 percent do not trust Congress to do so.

Other participants that have signed on to the day of action include Kickstarter, Nextdoor, GitHub, Etsy. Also, the ACLU, Greenpeace, Creative Commons and MoveOn. Other companies big and small are expected to join the campaign, Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future, told SiliconBeat in an email Tuesday.

The first deadline to submit comments to the FCC about net neutrality is July 17. Among the actions the groups and companies will be taking July 12, which the groups have dubbed the Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality, is to urge people to contact the Congress and the FCC to make their voices heard.

There are 4.97 million comments about the issue on the FCC website so far. Each side has accused the other of submitting fake comments.


Photo: Protesters hold a rally to support net neutrality on May 15, 2014 at the FCC in Washington, D.C. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)


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