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Amazon, Reddit, Mozilla, and other Internet companies are joining net neutrality activists next month for an “Internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality.”
“The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online,” activist groups Fight for the Future, Free Press, and Demand Progress said in an announcement today. “If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees. On July 12th, the Internet will come together to stop them.”
On that day, websites who sign up for the protest will “sound the alarm about the FCC’s attack on net neutrality.” While the announcement referred to previous protests such as the SOPA blackout in 2012 and Internet Slowdown Day in 2014, it’s not clear yet exactly what the websites involved in the new protest will be doing on July 12.sign up here.
Netflix says it’s time for others to take the lead
The participation of Amazon, one of the biggest tech giants and a major rival to Netflix in the online video market, is notable given Netflix’s decision to pull back from the net neutrality debate.
Online video providers are among the biggest beneficiaries of net neutrality rules, as Internet providers might otherwise try to restrict access to video services that compete against their cable TV packages. Netflix, the most popular video streaming service in the US, was one of the most prominent voices supporting net neutrality rules before the FCC imposed the current regulations in February 2015.
But Netflix CEO Reed Hastings last week said that it’s time for other companies to take the lead on fighting for net neutrality.
“Where net neutrality is really important is the Netflix of 10 years ago, and it’s important for society, it’s important for innovation, and it’s important for entrepreneurs,” Hastings said at a Recode conference.the Internet Association, but doesn’t seem likely to join public protests such as the one involving Amazon and Reddit.
“It’s not our primary battle at this point,” Hastings said. “For other people it is and that’s an important thing and we’re supportive through the industry association. We don’t have the special vulnerability to it [anymore], but [net neutrality is] still a really good thing.”
In a letter to shareholders in January, Netflix said that it’s “popular enough with consumers to keep our relationships with ISPs stable,” with or without net neutrality rules, but added that “strong net neutrality is important to support innovation and smaller firms.”
Netflix did protest home Internet data caps in a filing to the FCC last year. The net neutrality rules ban blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization but take no action against data caps.
Hastings doesn’t think any protest will stop the FCC from repealing net neutrality rules. “I think Trump’s FCC is going to unwind the rules no matter what anybody says,” he said.
Amazon wasn’t as heavily involved in the public debate as Netflix before the current rules were imposed, but both companies signed a letter to FCC commissioners in 2014 urging them to impose strict net neutrality rules. While startups may have a special vulnerability to a repeal of net neutrality rules, the member list of the July 12 day of action shows that some big Internet companies still think it’s important to stay involved in the public debate.
The FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, voted on May 18 to start the process of eliminating net neutrality rules and the classification of home and mobile Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC is seeking comments on what, if anything, should replace the current rules.
The FCC is taking comments on the docket until August 16.
Disclosure: Ars and Reddit are owned by the same parent company, Advance Publications.