If you hop onto YouTube on Wednesday, September 10, and see a loading symbol that simply won’t go away, don’t panic — the symbol’s there for good reason. Along with several other Internet sites, large and small, YouTube will be participating in the Internet Slowdown Day.
Organized by public advocacy organizations like Fight for the Future, Battle for the Net, and Demand Progress, the slowdown will take place on Wednesday, September 10. Its sole purpose is to promote net neutrality and convince the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to vote against a proposal which (in a nutshell) could allow “fast lane” connections for people and companies who can afford it, leaving everyone else stuck with slower connections and no way to improve their internet experience.
This also means smaller video sites wouldn’t be able to compete with larger companies to deliver high quality of service (particularly in streaming cases, which Netflix has already argued to the FCC). An example of this kind of service would be VHX, where users can upload original videos/content and sell them directly from the site. Jamie Wilkinson, co-founder and CEO at VHX, told Tubefilter in an email, “We’re particularly threatened by this legislation since we’re so HD-video heavy.” If the FCC were to approve the proposal in question, companies like VHX wouldn’t be able to provide that HD quality to viewers.
The Slowdown Day ultimately has a larger goal: It’s a way to show uninformed Internet users just how problematic things could become if cable and internet conglomerates get their way. The spinning load symbol will appear on many sites’ pages, but won’t actually slow down connections. Instead, users will be given information about how to contact the FCC and given other preventative steps they can consider.
“The cable companies have millions of dollars, but our side will prevail because we have millions of people,” said David Segal, Demand Progress’ executive director, in a statement noted by TheVideoInk. “More Americans have already spoken out in support of net neutrality than around any other cause that has ever been before the FCC, and our growing coalition will continue to fight for an open internet until it has been secured.”
Besides YouTube, participating sites include such big names as Netflix, Kickstarter, Etsy, Reddit, Vimeo, Upworthy, and WordPress, as well as thousands of smaller brands and companies like VHX. All of them want to ensure content is delivered quickly, fairly, and openly over the internet for years to come.
If you’d like to take a stand for net neutrality, you can submit your comment to the FCC’s site by the September 15 deadline. And tomorrow, you can use the hashtag #internetslowdown to spread awareness of the net neutrality issue.