battle for the net header

Starting tomorrow, a battle for net neutrality begins. A lot of international and US-based websites and companies are going to be participating in a public knowledge campaign called “Battle for the Net: Internet Slowdown Day.” No, this isn’t the last season of Reboot, but rather the fight for net neutrality and to stop mega-corporations and ISPs from controlling how the internet works and giving them more powers to legally control how people access their services. Hit the jump to find out more and remember to be a little more patient tomorrow if one of the companies participating provides you with services you rely on.

Some of the companies participating in the campaign include Netflix, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Reddit, Vimeo and WordPress. These sites will all be hosting links to the Battle for the Net website and will be including some GIFs showing loading bars much like those old-timey Steam GIFs that had funny messages for the absurdly long download times back in the day.


The campaign will begin tomorrow, 10 September 2014 at 00:01 PDT (09:00 South African Standard Time) and will continue until 11:59PM PDT (08:59 SAST). A few notes from the official press release follow below:

“Cable companies want to slow down (and break!) your favorite sites, for profit. To fight back, let’s cover the web with symbolic “loading” icons, to remind everyone what an Internet without net neutrality would look like, and drive record numbers of emails and calls to lawmakers. Are you in?

On September 10th, sites across the web will display an alert with a symbolic “loading” symbol (the proverbial “spinning wheel of death”) and promote a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House. Note: none of these tools actually slow your site down; they tell your visitors about the issue and ask them to contact lawmakers.

The Internet Slowdown starts at midnight September 10th, and runs all day until 11:59pm. Whatever awesome stuff you’ve got planned, do it then! And remember: the goal is to drive as many emails and calls to Congress, the White House, and the FCC as possible.

This is the time to go big, visible, and strong – that’s the only way we can actually win this fight. We all need to get as many people in our respective audiences motivated to do something. We can make this epic, but only if you help. We need companies to be frontrunners, leaders, and heroes on this, that’s the key ingredient to raising the bar and making sure everyone goes big.

We realize it’s a big ask, but this is the kind of bad internet legislation that comes along (or gets this close to passing) once a decade or so. If it passes we’ll be kicking ourselves for decades—every time a favorite site gets relegated to the slow lane, and every time we have to rework or abandon a project because of the uncertain costs paid prioritization creates. Doing the most we can right now seems like the only rational step.”

For us South Africans down here, things are progressing in a similar fashion, but only the roots thus far. MyBroadband recently reported on how ISPs in the country are throttling data usage of high-bandwidth consumers and almost every ISP today has some form of Acceptable Use Policy that limits the speeds of torrents, NNTP downloads and there are even some services, like Supersport, which intentionally break their user experience to get more people to sign up to DSTV. For anyone accessing services in the US, though, you’d be subject to the same crummy speeds from internet providers connecting you to the service you’re accessing and you’d have no recourse to protest against it.

In the US, though, things are a lot more serious. Many internet companies like Comcast offer cable internet, but intentionally limit speeds to other competitor services in order to get more people to sign up with their in-house service, particularly if you’re a Comcast subscriber and choose to rather find your entertainment on Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll or Amazon Prime Video. The US Government also wants to rewrite the rules of how the internet is run and a number of other ISPs like Verizon Wireless want to make the definition of “broadband internet” have a minimum speed of 4Mb/s instead of 10Mb/s. Much of this behaviour will go unpoliced because it’s impossible for every single company to take every cable or internet provider to court over anticompetitive practices because at the end of the day they wield the bigger stick.

There’s even a precedent of ISPs blocking access completely to websites and their competitors services. Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload service was banned for a few short weeks in 2011, for example, while the US Government seized their computers and attempted to intercept all incoming traffic (which also happened to The Pirate Bay). In 2013 a big scandal erupted on the internet after reports surfaced of how ISPs and cable providers were actively limiting access speeds to Youtube under the disguise that the streaming video was congesting their network. If you use Twitch or Ustream, similar problems are affecting those services all around the world.

Will you be supporting net neutrality? Do you have to ask people what exactly this is and why it benefits you? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Battle for the Net

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