OpenMedia

Stop the Secrecy

Democracy Now: A preview of the Internet slow lane is coming soon

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 14:47 -- Eva Prkachin

Photo by Steven Depolo via Flickr

Have you wondered what the Internet might be like if Big Cable is allowed to force traffic into slow lanes? Amy Goodman spells it out, and it ain't pretty. Speak out now at https://OpenMedia.org/SlowLane

Article by Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan for Democracy Now

Next Wednesday, Sept. 10, if your favorite website seems to load slowly, take a closer look: You might be experiencing the Battle for the Net’s “Internet Slowdown,” a global day of grassroots action. Protesters won’t actually slow the Internet down, but will place on their websites animated “Loading” graphics (which organizers call “the proverbial ‘spinning wheel of death’”) to symbolize what the Internet might soon look like. As that wheel spins, the rules about how the internet works are being redrawn. Large Internet service providers, or ISPs, like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon are trying to change the rules that govern your online life.

The fight over these rules is being waged now. These corporate ISPs want to create a two-tiered Internet, where some websites or content providers pay to get preferred access to the public. Large content providers like Netflix, the online streaming movie giant, would pay extra to ensure that their content traveled on the fast lane. But let’s say a startup tried to compete with Netflix. If it couldn’t afford to pay the large ISPs their fees for the fast lane, their service would suffer, and people wouldn’t subscribe.

The Internet is protected from this two-tiered, discriminatory practice through regulated “net neutrality,” the fundamental principle of the Internet that allows any user to access Web content freely without any corporation censoring the content or slowing down the connection. Because so much of the world’s Internet traffic passes through the United States, the way that the U.S. regulates the Internet impacts the entire planet. Sadly, the state of Internet regulation in the U.S., under the Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission, is in crisis. The Obama-appointed FCC chair, Tom Wheeler, has proposed new rules for the Internet that would effectively do away with net neutrality, allowing large ISPs to create these separate fast lanes and slow lanes.

- Read more at Democracy Now