It’s not all that often that the world’s biggest tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon agree to unite and work together for a common cause, which is exactly what makes Wednesday’s events so special. In response to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) plans to end net neutrality rules, more than 100 tech companies both large and small joined together in a massive, coordinated protest event designed to draw attention to the issue. The result was Wednesday’s Day of Action for Net Neutrality, which saw most of the world’s leading tech giants using banners, pop ups and blog posts in an effort to inform their users about the FCC’s plans and the importance of net neutrality.
Currently, net neutrality rules state that broadband service providers must treat all traffic the same way. However, if the FCC gets its way, tech companies fear that they could essentially be held hostage by powerful broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast. If the net neutrality rules were eliminated, these providers would be allowed to use faster delivery lanes for some websites and slower lanes for others. In essence, the providers themselves could choose to arbitrarily ensure faster or slower loading times for whichever websites they wanted.
Google, Facebook and the other tech companies hope that by drawing more attention to the issue, they may be able to spark a larger protest movement and hopefully convince the FCC to leave the net neutrality laws in place. Netflix is one company that relies heavily on access to free, open internet lanes, and on Wednesday, the website featured a banner ad informing users of the importance of net neutrality.
The online forum Reddit also got in on the action and anyone accessing the site was greeted with a pop up warning them that the end of net neutrality could mean slower loading times for their favorite websites. Twitter also used its homepage to promote the hashtag #NetNeutrality. Users could also click on a link to a blog post to learn more about the issue. Amazon, Expedia and even Etsy joined in the protests and used a number of banner ads and blog and Twitter posts to inform users. Some even went so far as to link to sites where users could directly contact the FCC and lawmakers in order to voice their support for net neutrality.
Although Facebook and Google were slightly more low key in their efforts, there is still no doubt that the Day of Action for Net Neutrality was successful in reaching millions of Americans. However, the question still remains as to whether the protest event will actually have any effect at convincing the FCC to cancel its plans. In this sense, the fight is far from over and it’s important that all users take action to defend your rights to a free and open internet.