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Tech Websites Band Together For Net Neutrality

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Big names in the tech industry unite to halt Trump’s reversal of Obama’s net neutrality rules

Controversial plans by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reverse landmark net neutrality rules in the US, has prompted a united response from the tech industry.

Visitors on Wednesday to websites such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and even porn website Pornhub will start to see messages about the proposed neutrality rule changes, as part of a broad campaign by the tech industry against the impending change.

The tech industry has largely opposed the FCC and Donald Trump on this matter. Earlier this year, the Internet Association, which represents many leading tech firms, bluntly warned the FCC not to repeal net neutrality rules.

516px-Network_neutrality_symbol_english.svgDay Of Action

But despite that, the FCC voted two to one in May to begin the official process of dismantling of net neutrality rules. And this has provoked the tech industry to joint forces once again for its ‘Day of Action‘.

The campaign will allow individual websites and companies to decide how far they will go on the matter. Firms that take part are expected to either write messages to visitors, or change the look of their homepages or user interfaces, to inform visitors about the issue of net neutrality.

It is reported that some websites may even post graphics to simulate the experience of a “slower” Internet.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation for example has called on users to write personally to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Pai is a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, and he has pledged to reverse the landmark net neutrality rules that were delivered under the former Obama administration, which safeguards against a two speed Internet.

Pai wants to ISPs to voluntarily agree to maintain an open internet, by not obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content.

In May the FCC claimed that its website had been attacked after British comedian John Oliver called on viewers to register their opposition to the actions of Ajit Pai.

Oliver on his ‘Last Week Tonight’ TV show pointed out that Pai is a former lawyer with Verizon, an ISP that had opposed Obama’s net neutrality regulations.

Oliver offered a shortcut to the commission’s comment form to oppose the rule change after he brought the domain www.gofccyourself.com.

Obama Rule

It was back in February 2015 that the FCC passed tough new rules to ensure broadband providers in the United States could not create ‘fast lanes’ that slow or block online traffic. The FCC had classified ISPs much like utility service providers (i.e. water, electricity, gas), which meant that online connections could not be speed controlled.

Proponents of network neutrality have long said it is necessary to keep the Internet from devolving into multiple tiers that depended on users’ ability to pay for preferential speeds.

And the former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, has previously warned against removing the net neutrality rules.

Quiz: Do you understand the language of the Internet?