Web Companies, Public Interest Groups Plan Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality

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Technology companies such as Amazon, Etsy, Kickstarter and Mozilla plan to participate in what is being called “a day of action” to retain net neutrality on July 12.

The group Fight for the Future, as well as public interest groups, oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to slash Title II, the legal framework for net neutrality rules that they say protect online free speech and innovation. The organizers are concerned that a rollback of net neutrality rules will give cable companies greater control over what consumers see and do online, leading to censorship and higher fees.

The organizers say the day of action will be similar to the SOPA Blackout in 2012 and Internet Slowdown three years ago. Etsy, Mozilla and Netflix, as well as other tech companies, staged a slowdown in service in 2014 to demonstrate what the end of net neutrality would mean to internet users.

Tech companies in the past have opposed proposals that would allow cable firms to create “fast lanes” for paying customers who use a lot of bandwidth. Cable companies on the other side of the dispute say net neutrality limits innovation and investment in the internet.

“The Internet has given more people a voice than ever before, and we’re not going to let the FCC take that power away from us,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future “Massive online mobilization got us the strong net neutrality protections that we have now, and we intend to fight tooth and nail to defend them.”

Opposition is growing against plans by the White House to change regulations passed in 2015 meant to protect net neutrality.

“The day of action will focus on grassroots mobilization,” said the press release from Fight for the Future, “with public interest groups activating their members and major web platforms providing their visitors with tools to contact Congress and the FCC.”

The organizers claim 30 public interest groups and 15 major web companies have signed on in support of the effort.

“Net neutrality is vital to a healthy Internet: it protects free speech, competition and innovation online,” said Denelle Dixon, Mozilla’s chief legal and business officer, in a statement. “By reverting to a Title I classification for ISPs, the FCC is endangering Americans’ access to a free and open web.”

Michael Cheah, general counsel to New York-based video-sharing website Vimeo, which also plans to participate in the action, said net neutrality made it possible for Vimeo to innovate and thrive. “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.”

Zachary Rosen, CEO of website manager Pantheon in San Francisco, said: “We started Pantheon to make it easier for organizations big and small to succeed on the Web. But if strong net neutrality rules under Title II go away, it’d put both us and our customers’ innovation at risk.”