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Mainstream Websites At Forefront of ‘Internet Slowdown Day’

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Today, the fight for net neutrality reaches critical mass. Welcome to Internet Slowdown Day.

Dozens of the net’s biggest players have united under one banner to try and take on the might of the US cable company. This is following plans for a tiered internet that will increase the power of the big boys and suffocate those who can’t afford to pay. The sites leading the campaign include Netflix, Boing Boing, Reddit and FourSquare, with even Twitter set to show their support.

More importantly, they’re joined by three of the world’s biggest porn websites.

But what’s all the fuss about? Recently, American cable companies leaked a scheme to introduce a tiered system to their service. Under the new rules, websites refusing to pay a premium will be throttled at source, causing their users to experience slowdown and longer loading times. Meanwhile, the larger companies who can afford to line Comcast and Co’s pockets will run as smoothly as ever – forcing internet users their way and giving the big players even more of a monopoly.

This goes against everything the internet stands for. And cyberspace, as always, is fighting back.

An internet-wide movement started by www.battleforthenet.com takes place today. In an effort to showcase the real-world horrors of a tiered internet, dozens of websites have pledged to adorn their pages with the icon that best represents the agony of a sluggish internet connection: the buffering symbol. That horrid little spinning circle will play before every video on Netflix. It will appear after every link click on Reddit. It will plaster every last page on WordPress.

The effect of this, we’re told, is that we'll get to see firsthand just how awful a place the internet will be if American cable companies get their way. It will also help to expose those not familiar with internet politics to the issues and controversies of net neutrality.

And your help is urgently required.

Battleforthenet.com has provided widgets and gifs that can be shared. They want as many people as possible to tell US congress they find these plans unacceptable and even, at their strongest, the word that gets Americans riled up like no other: unconstitutional. Outside of cyberspace, rallies are planned over the next few days outside FCC headquarters and at Capitol Hill, Washington. The campaign’s end-goal is to force US congress to redefine the internet as a ‘common carrier’ – a move which will effectively squander the cable companies’ plans before they have a chance to gain momentum.

So what should you do to help? The answer is something. Anything. Have a Twitter account with two followers that are both bots? Share your thoughts with the hashtag #NetNeutrality. Have a blog that even your mum won't read? Upload one of the widgets provided by battleforthenet.com. And if you do have a platform that can reach an audience, use that to help spread the word even more. The site suggests a push notification if you have a mobile app, for example.

This campaign isn't about how much influence you have, it's about how much support you give.

While this might all seem superfluous to those outside the US, it's inevitable that if American cable companies get their way, European ISPs won't hesitate in following suit.

That much is a guarantee.


Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

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Mainstream Websites At Forefront of ‘Internet Slowdown Day’ Reviewed by Emile Cole on Thursday, September 11, 2014 Rating: 5
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