Websites 'slow down' to observe Net Neutrality Day on Wednesday

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Websites 'slow down' to observe Net Neutrality Day on Wednesday
What is Net Neutrality Day, and why does it have some websites simulating a slower Internet?

Internet users might notice something about their favorite websites on Wednesday: They're talking about a slower Internet.

It's a way of participating in Net Neutrality Day, a protest calling attention to potential changes in the way the Internet is regulated.

Here's what you should know.

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the concept that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all websites and content the same.

Why is everyone talking about net neutrality now?

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission approved a set of regulations on Internet Service Providers. Then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called it a victory, saying the rules allowed the commission to act as an Internet "referee."

"Blocking, throttling, pay-for-priority fast lanes and other efforts to come between consumers and the Internet are now things of the past," he said in 2015.

This week, the FCC is discussing a plan to roll back those 2015 regulations.

What is Net Neutrality Day?

Net Neutrality Day on July 12 is a digital protest asking the FCC to keep the regulations in place. Dozens of websites and tech giants are participating in a variety of ways. Some are posting blogs and videos explaining net neutrality while others are displaying symbols of a slower internet.

Which sites are supporting it and how?

On Wednesday, both reddit and Netflix simulated a slower Internet, with reddit displaying a slowly-loading message which read in part, "The internet's at its best when you -- not internet service providers -- decide what you see online."

Netflix's home page displays a classic buffering wheel, along with a link to the Internet Association's website.

Other sites, such as Twitter and Air BnB, are sharing blog posts about why net neutrality is important to them.

Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon have also signed on to participate.

What do opponents say?

Telecom companies want the rules rolled back. The NCTA - The Internet & Television Association released a statement on its website Tuesday stating that they support net neutrality but do not believe that the current regulations promote it.

"We agree that internet users should have the freedom to go anywhere on the internet or to run any application with confidence that internet traffic will in no way be blocked or throttled," the statement reads in part. "That idea sits at the foundation of internet services, reflects how consumers enjoy the internet today, and despite claims to the contrary, has never truly been in jeopardy."