We all remember seeing this when trying to access our favorite website…or do we? I might be showing my age here but I remember the days of dial-up internet connections when loading a website meant going to grab a cup of coffee while you waited for the page to show up. While the symbolic “Internet Slowdown” (which is scheduled to occur at midnight on September 10th, 2014 and run till 11:59 PM September 10th, 2014) is not going to bring the world back to dial-up speeds for a day, it is meant to show us what life would be like if Net Neutrality doesn’t remain a reality.
Net Neutrality…what’s it all about? Internet Neutrality or as it’s more commonly referred to as Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers and Governments should treat all data on the Internet equally regardless of the content, user, site, platform, application, hardware, or modes of communication. In plain English all this means is that many people believe the Internet should be a free and open (unregulated) market.
For the most part the Internet has remained that way and since 2011 has been protected under the FCC’s rules for Preserving a Free and Open Internet. These rules don’t prevent service providers from charging more for higher speeds, but they do prevent them from discriminatory practices that prevent access or slow down access to lawful network traffic. This means that if I get broadband internet access through my cable company and I subscribe to a music or movie streaming service such as Spotify or Netflix, my broadband provider (cable company) cannot lawfully block or slow down traffic to the streaming services nor can they charge me extra for accessing them through their network.
So how does the September 10th Internet Slowdown affect you? Don’t worry, the Internet isn’t going to actually slow down. Certain website publishers, content providers and corporations will be displaying a ‘loading’ animation on their homepage as show of solidarity for net neutrality. Basically, when you try to access one of your favorite websites you might get a landing page that shows a similar animation to the one at the top of this article.