The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new plan for net neutrality rules has garnered nearly 1.5 million comments, more than the previous record set for Janet Jackson’s 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction,” The Hill reported.
The record was broken yesterday during an Internet-wide protest over the plan to allow Internet service providers (ISP) to charge content providers, like Netflix and Hulu, to have their services delivered to consumers at a faster speed than those who do not pay.
This means that ISPs will be able to dictate which content is delivered at which speed, and give faster data transfer rates to sites of their preference, essentially creating “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” for online content.
Yesterday, websites like Reddit and Kickstarter participated in the “Internet Slowdown” against FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal, which they say would put “deep-pocketed” companies in the “fast lane,” and everyone else in the “slow lane,” according to The Hill.
Part of their protest included websites hosting banners and “loading” images (like Apple’s “wheel of death”), warning that destroying net neutrality could make slower load times a permanent fixture on the Web.
Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) called for the FCC to legally reclassify high-speed Internet, allowing for regulations similar to those of other utilities like traditional phone service.
A Sunlight Foundation analysis of all the the public comments to the FCC regarding net neutrality found that around two-thirds have called for utility-style regulations. Only one percent supported Wheeler’s proposed rules.
While big ISPs like Comcast and AT&T fight against net neutrality, the public outcry might be affecting the FCC.
Chairman Wheeler discussed the possibility of expanding current net neutrality rules to cover mobile devices run through companies like Verizon earlier this week. He also has recently said that the “current state of the broadband Internet market” was “too concentrated and did not force companies to compete over consumers,” The Hill reported.
Hopefully the sheer volume of comments crying for the FCC not to allow the “fast” and “slow” lanes will show just how important this issue is to the American people. The Internet has become ubiquitous and necessary for almost everyone, and allowing large corporations to stifle innovation and create monopolies online will only hurt consumers.