FILE - In this Wednesday Nov. 6, 2013, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on an updated phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter reports financial results Friday, April 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Twitter Enters The Net Neutrality Debate

Current net neutrality rules were enacted by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama era. Those regulations came by way of the Open Internet Order in 2015. Generally speaking, net neutrality mandates all internet content and traffic be treated equally. Providers cannot give paid prioritization or block content. The internet is treated more or less like a utility

Smaller internet companies love this. Big internet service providers hate this.

Defenders of net neutrality received a huge boost on Thursday after Twitter announced it would be joining other prominent internet companies in their “Day of Action” protest.

Twitter’s participation in the “Day of Action” protest – set for July 12 – is an attempt to stop the Federal Communications Commission from rolling back net neutrality rules enacted under the Obama administration. The protest date comes five days before the first deadline for comments on the FCC’s proposal to undo net neutrality protections. The social media giant is joined by around 60 other big-name companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Reddit and Pornhub (don’t laugh, they report 75 million visitors per day).

A lot of unsuspecting internet users will be made aware of the debate.

In the name of free market capitalism, current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has long said he wants to do away with the regulations brought by the Open Internet Order. He is pushing the Restoring Internet Freedom proposal to undo these rules and bring back freedom to providers. However, this would mean smaller companies may not be able to keep up with others and afford luxuries such as paid prioritization. Companies and organizations are putting pressure on the FCC not to undo the rules. The “Day of Action” campaign is being organized to bring awareness to the issue. Companies will mostly change their homepage to engage viewers.

“This protest is gaining so much momentum because no one wants their cable company to charge them extra fees or have the power to control what they can see and do on the Internet,” stated Evan Greer, the campaign director of Fight for the Future, one of the main advocacy groups organizing the day of action. Fight for the Future touts a Morning Consult/Politico poll finding a majority of respondents support the prevention of blocking and paid prioritization.

Not to be outdone, service provider companies such as AT&T, Time Warner and Verizon are organizing counter protests in support of the Restoring Internet Freedom proposal. They argue that current net neutrality rules create burdensome regulations and leave consumers worse off.

Given that millions of Americans visit the participating sites on a daily basis, it’s safe to say everyone will have an opinion on July 12.


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Jason Hopkins

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