Technology companies such as Alphabet, Twitter and Facebook took part in an online protest aimed at opposing changes that have been proposed to the net neutrality rules in the United States. Currently, the rules prohibit providers of broadband internet from favoring certain internet services when selling or giving access.
The rule which the Obama administration implemented in 2015 are now under threat after proposals were made by the current chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, who was appointed in January by President Trump. Prior to the final vote and before a decision can be made, members of the public have been given an opportunity to air their views. The deadline falls in mid-August.
In Pai’s view, the FCC should repeal the rules which had internet service providers reclassified as utilities. According to the FCC chairman, the rules allowing an open internet to thrive were unnecessary and are a threat to job creation and investment.
Some of the internet giants posted their support for the net neutrality rules in blog posts. They also encouraged users to participate and voice their opinion.
“Net Neutrality is foundational to competitive, free enterprise, entrepreneurial market entry – and reaching global customers. You don’t have to be a big shot to compete,” wrote Twitter in a blog post.
Reddit, a popular online forum, had on display a logo that was taking ages to load accompanied by a pop-up which warned users what they stood to lose if net neutrality rules were repealed. Other tech giants such as Amazon and Netflix had banners displayed on their home pages. They also posted video clips which sought to explain what net neutrality was and then urged internet users to let the FCC know their opinion.
Telecommunications giant AT&T was not left behind as it also participated in the online protest. This was a climb-down as the telco has in the past been in disagreement with staunch advocates of net neutrality over how the rules should be enforced.
According to the Internet Association which represents web companies such as Google and Facebook, the net neutrality rules were effective and repealing them would result in a bad deal for users. There would also be less innovation on the internet.