A consortium of some of the Internet's most visited websites, including reddit, Imgur, Wordpress, and Mozilla, will prominently display a spinning red loading icon on Wednesday, September 10, in a protest against planned FCC rules changes that would undermine the principals of net neutrality.
Visitors to participating sites will also see information directing them to contact lawmakers to express their concern over net neutrality issues.
The goal of the protest, which was organized by the advocacy group Fight for the Future, is to highlight the two-tiered Internet that opponents say the new FCC rules would create. Weakening provisions that bar ISPs from discriminating against different types of traffic, they say, would open the door to a wide range of practices that would serve only to inflate the cable industry's bottom line, at the expense of consumers and businesses alike.
The sites organized under Fight for the Future's umbrella want the FCC to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which would subject those companies to much more rigorous and legally unproblematic net neutrality standards.
Fight for the Future says that the finalized rules could be in place by the end of 2014.
"[Cable companies] would have the power to discriminate against online content and applications -- they could pick winners and losers, shake sites down for fees, block content for political reasons, and make it easier for Internet users to view content the cable companies own," the group said in a statement.
The latest public comment period for the proposed changes ends on September 15. The changes, originally proposed in the wake of a court ruling that weakened the FCC's authority over broadband Internet services, have been generally interpreted as a retreat from net neutrality's principles, despite FCC chair Tom Wheeler's repeated public statements to the contrary.