Amazon, Netflix and More Sound Off for Net Neutrality

In this May 15, 2014, file photo, demonstrators protest outside the FCC as the commission prepares to receive public comment on proposed open Internet notice of proposed rulemaking and spectrum auctions at the FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong / Getty Images, File

Visit the Netflix and Amazon home pages Wednesday and you'll find more than just TV shows, movies and things to buy. They and other major websites are using space on their home page to draw attention to net neutrality, which some feel is under threat by the Trump administration.

"The internet's less fun when your favorite sites load slowly, isn't it?" reads a message on Reddit's home page that loads letter by letter.

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Led by three grassroots organizations — Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund and Demand Progress — more than 100,000 websites, online services and internet users have signed on to Wednesday’s "Battle for the Net," according to a press release from Fight for the Future.

Net neutrality is the idea that everyone should have equal access to a free and open internet, as opposed to one in which people can pay more for faster service. The principal was affirmed by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015 when it implemented regulations barring internet service providers from giving faster access to certain websites and blocking or slowing down access for others.

But new FCC chairman Ajit Pai proposed reversing those regulations, citing the unnecessary burden they place on providers, and in May, the first step in that process passed.

"We propose to put technologists and engineers, rather than lawyers and accountants, at the center of the online world," Pai said in an address before the commission at the time.

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But supporters of net neutrality see it differently.

"Pai has consistently voted against pro-internet user, pro-competition positions in favor of handing control of the network to a small number of powerful companies,” said Candace Clement, campaign director for the Free Press Action Fund, in a statement.

Sites like Netflix are displaying messages urging users to send their comments in support of net neutrality to the FCC and Congress.

“The FCC needs to listen to the public, not just lobbyists from big cable companies,” Fight for the Future’s campaign director Evan Greer said in a statement. “Today, the Internet is showing its political power.”

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This is not the first time a grassroots effort has been put forth to protect online egalitarianism.

In 2014, "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver called on viewers to submit comments to the FCC in opposition to a proposal that would have allowed internet service providers to create internet "fast lanes" for higher-paying users. The FCC's website subsequently crashed.

That same year, the organizers behind "Battle for the Net" as well as advocacy group Engine put together an internet slowdown day. Participants spread awareness by displaying a symbolic loading symbol on their home pages along with a call to action for users to submit comments to the FCC, similar to Wednesday's initiative.

The deadline for open comments to the FCC is July 17.

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