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Fight for net neutrality: Sept. 10 will be ‘Internet Slowdown Day’

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Online activists are pressing federal regulators to create stronger rules that would protect net neutrality which would mean an equal treatment of all Web content. Huge online sites and social networks are encouraged to join the protest by placing a customized code on their site that would depict a "loading " icon. Through this, they can voice out the message that Internet traffic could suffer a slowdown if regulators fail to create stronger rules on net neutrality. The protest code would also enable visitors to access the comment section where they can show their support to net neutrality which would eventually be sent to the Federal Communications Commission and to certain elected officials.

Dubbed as "Internet Slowdown Day," the online demonstration will be using the "loading" icon for symbolic purposes. Visitors who would see this type of icon on September 10 should not worry about an actual Internet slowdown. It will serve as their cue to show their support by placing a comment.

"Sites will employ icons that symbolize a slower Internet, but will not actually load more slowly," says Free Press, one of the organizing groups of the upcoming online demonstration.

A similar event occurred on January 18, 2012 when some of the biggest online sites, which include Reddit and Wikipedia, went dark as a way to protest the "Stop Online Piracy Act." On that day, Google had its logo blacked out. Users were asked to sign a petition on the net that opposes the bill. Craigslist also had a special greeting to users on that day. "Imagine a world without Craigslist, Wikipedia, Google, (your favorite sites here)," says the message. "News Corp, RIAA, MPAA, Nike, Sony, Comcast, VISA & others want to make that world your reality."

The campaign was a success and at the end of the day, officials had pulled back from supporting the proposed anti-piracy act. The legislation is seen by several digital rights supporters as a significant threat to the Internet's open platform access.

This year, advocacy groups are up on their heels again as they battle the issue on net neutrality. The latter is based on the principle that ISPs and governments should give equal treatment to all data on the Internet. They should not discriminate or charge differentially according to user, site, application, content, platform, modes of communication and type of attached equipment.

"The Internet Slowdown will show millions more people what a world without real Net Neutrality would look like," says Craig Aaron, Free Press Action Fund President and CEO. "If you claim to support the free and open Internet, you must pick a side in this battle. And being on Team Internet means you support reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Communications Act."

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