To protest rules that could shut the door on net neutrality, content delivery network MaxCDN is allowing its customers to slow connections from Federal Communications Commission IPs to 28k modem speeds.
MaxCDN was inspired by web host Neocities which decided to slow the speed of visitors from the FCC to illustrate that the rules proposed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would create a situation where companies can pay Internet service providers to prioritize their traffic.
While the exact content of Wheeler’s plan won’t be made available to the public until Thursday, insiders say that his plan would allow companies to pay to prioritize their web content, rather than treating all web traffic equally. However, the language has apparently been revised this week to prevent ISPs from creating a “slow lane” for those who can’t afford to pay a premium – even though it’s impossible to create a fast lane without also creating a slow lane.
In essence, this would allow companies like AT&T and Verizon to undermine the open nature of the Internet, and could prove an enormous threat to services delivered over the internet such as streaming media and cloud computing. Naturally, hundreds of tech companies including MaxCDN and Neocities, as well as private citizens, are voicing their criticism for Wheeler’s proposed regulations.
The political left has been most vocal over net neutrality, yet one could make an argument that net neutrality could be seen a protection of the free market. And although net neutrality would have to be enforced through government regulation, it is something that fits into the pro-business, conservative agenda.
Given the public outcry around net neutrality from all sides of the political spectrum, the FCC needs to show that it can be trusted to act in the best interests of citizens and of the internet itself.
Unfortunately, it’s becoming hard to take the FCC seriously as an independent body, given that commissioners have political party affiliations and are appointed rather than elected. Wheeler, himself, worked as a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry before joining the FCC.
Even if the FCC forces through rules that allow carriers to charge for premium speeds, the public and the tech industry will likely pressure elected politicians to overturn the FCC’s regulations. And they will pull pranks if they have to.