On September 10th 2014 the internet as a whole came to a grinding halt. Luckily that was only metaphorically as the BattleForTheNet, Internet Slowdown campaign came in to force. It was the last major push before the FCC closes public comments on September 15th 2014
What action was taken
Protest took the form of internet sites in the US and around the world adding spinning loading logos to their websites indicating what the internet may look like should net neutrality reforms be pushed through. While some sites opted for smaller less intrusive designs with links to the site where users could air their voice others such as LiquidVPN opted for a larger contact form type information banner at which users could raise their dismay on site directly.
The event was aimed at making the public aware of the very serious dangers that lurk should Net Neutrality be undermined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) leading to what some have called a two tier internet. The FCC had previously extended the deadline for public comment until September 15th 2014 allowing enough time for further comment. This in turn gave the Internet Slowdown campaign added chance to increase participation by the general public who may have been previously unaware of the implications.
What the campaign achieved
The event itself has been hailed a success from both a user interaction stand point and also from the view of the types of companies who got behind the campaign.
On the day of protest itself over 312,171 phone calls were placed which during peak hours hit an unbelievable 1000 calls per minute. Over 2,332,092 emails to congress were also sent in the same period. If that alone wasn’t an astonishing feat an added 777,364 people filed comments with the FCC in majority through one of the many sites such as LiquidVPN and the other 40,805 who displayed the full BattleForTheNet comment panel enabling users to vent their frustration directly.
One of the most surprising aspects of the campaign is the reach in which it permeated through national borders to include companies and individual sites outside of the US all showing support in the spirit of the internet itself. As the internet is a network without borders the international community stood tall to support US citizens.
While the international community lent its hand to support the cause the interest from multinational corporations within the United States itself was overwhelming. Throughout the day of the event the official FightForTheFuture twitter account exploded with reports of websites that were showing support for the initiative with a somewhat who’s who of the tech world. Notable names too many to mention included Google, Netflix, GoDaddy, Ebay, Vimeo, Tumblr, WordPress, Reddit and Kickstarter amongst many thousands more.
What can be done now
While the campaign day is well and truly over there is still a window of time for those who missed the event to make their voices heard by registering their support for the campaign and Net Neutrality at the dedicated EFF site. Members of the US public have until the 15th September to register their support which will no doubt take the statistics already released even further than initial results.
Those who want to make their view public in a physical presence can attend one of the two main protests both in New York City and Philadelphia set to take place on the 15th September also. FightForTheFuture are encouraging others to get involved and set up their own local protests with a toolkit available via the same link to get up and running.
The activism director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Rainey Reitman wrote “For months, the FCC has been collecting comments from the public about its proposed net neutrality guidelines, and hundreds of thousands of people have already spoken out. But we’re fast approaching the deadline for public engagement through the rule making process: September 15 is the end of the public comment period.”
What does the future hold for Net Neutrality
Unfortunately regardless of the obvious success of the Internet Slowdown campaign the actual outcome of such an initiative will only be seen within the coming weeks when the FCC makes their final ruling. While users can continue to make their views known and organisations obviously increase their voice the ultimate decision will be based on taking in to account all sides.
With some rather big ISPs and other industry bodies pushing to threaten the status quo of Net Neutrality the US should wait with baited breath and hope for the best possible outcome.