Top websites are joining forces with net activists today in Internet Slowdown Day to protest against plans for a two-speed internet.
Sites such as Reddit, Foursquare, Vimeo, Wordpress and Netflix will display an “infinitely-loading site icon” to show what surfing could be like were broadband providers allowed to offer a priority service for those willing to pay more.
The USA’s Federal Communications Commission has been drafting proposals for the future of the internet. One of its clauses suggests broadband providers would be allowed to offer “paid prioritisation” for faster internet access.
The protest will be symbolic and sites will not be slowed down but Fight for the Future, the group behind the event, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Greenpeace, wants to use the demonstration to ensure all traffic is treated the same way and to inspire people to sign up and voice their opinions.
The group says the plans will create a two-speed superhighway with slow lanes for the majority of users and fast lanes for corporates that are willing to pay fees for fast service. It also claims the new rules would allow providers to “discriminate against online content and applications”.
Video streaming sites, for example, could be able to send their content on a fast lane while those who have not paid would be forced to contend with a slower service.
Net neutrality is a hot topic online. The basic principal is that providers and governments should treat all internet traffic the same. This means that broadband providers should not block or slow down traffic based on users and their content.