Facebook and Google are throwing their weight behind preserving the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial net neutrality rules.
The two internet giants confirmed Friday that they plan to participate in a mass online demonstration to defend the rules as the Republican-led FCC considers gutting the protections, according to spokespeople for the companies.
Dozens of companies and activist groups, including Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, Spotify and the ACLU, have already signed on to the protest, which is trying to drum up grassroots support for the regulations. The rules, which were passed in 2015 by a Democrat-controlled FCC, are meant to prevent broadband companies from favoring their own content over competitors’ services. The regulation explicitly prevents these companies from blocking or slowing down competitors’ traffic or charging fees to deliver service faster.
Thebecause the FCC in 2015 changed the classification of broadband to treat the service like a public utility. Broadband and wireless companies say the regulations impose outdated law designed for the old telephone network on the internet, and they say this has hampered investment.
Until now, Google and Facebook, two of the largest companies on the internet, have kept quiet as the Republican FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, has launched proceedings to dismantle the rules. Pai, who voted against the rules when he was a commissioner, has argued that the previous FCC under President Obama overstepped its authority.
Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future and an organizer of the event, said he’s glad to hear the companies plan to participate in the July 12 event.
“In previous years these companies have often been on the sidelines of these fights,” he said in a statement. “So we hope that they plan to do something meaningful in the spirit of the protest and educate their users about what’s at stake if we lose net neutrality protections that protect our online free speech, and give them opportunities to take action.”
Facebook and Google didn’t provide details on what their involvement during the “day of action” would be. Other groups, such as Amazon and Netflix, also haven’t said how they plan to protest online.
But a few companies have shared how they plan to spread the word on July 12. Online dating website OkCupid said it will send users an in-app message to go to the Day of Action website, battleforthenet.com, to show their support. Video streaming site Vimeo has launched an explainer video and blog to educate people on why preserving net neutrality will help keep the internet “free and weird.” Mozilla, the open-source web browser company, plans to add a message under its Firefox search bar to direct people to read comments it’s gathered to support net neutrality.
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