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Online protest against proposed FCC changes to net neutrality garners mass support

A large number of popular websites and advocacy groups, including Netflix, Vimeo, Reddit and Upworthy will launch an online protest Wednesday, demonstrating their disapproval of changes to net neutrality. The effort aims to show regulators that even companies which rely on fast internet service are opposed to creating fast lanes on the internet.

Team Internet, comprised of companies protesting the net neutrality changes, will use "still loading" symbols in their banners to represent how the internet would function slowly after the proposed changes. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is being urged not to let broadband providers allow certain online content to be treated as privileged, at the expense of other sites. The symbolic icons the protestors will use provide links to websites where users can learn more about net neutrality or take action on the issue.

"We believe in the free and open Internet, with no arbitrary fees or slow lanes for sites that can't pay," wrote protesters on their own website. "If [cable companies] win, the Internet dies."

The protest could grow to include thousands of websites joined together for a common cause. In 2011, a similar protest took place to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would have enhanced online copyright protection. Similarly, SOPA was backed by entertainment companies. Recently, two court cases have been brought up by cable companies against the FCC challenging the fairness of current net neutrality laws, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic the same.

Proposed FCC changes
Demand Progress, Free Press and Fight for the Future are protesting alongside popular websites in disapproval of the proposals made by FCC's Chairman Tom Wheeler on how content accessed through broadband providers ought to be handled. Wheeler's rules would allow content companies to pay for faster lanes, thus gaining privileged access to consumers.

Netflix made a statement in the Financial Times stating that consumers are the ones that should control the flow of internet traffic, not broadband providers.

"Strong net neutrality rules are needed to stop internet service providers from demanding extra fees or slowing delivery of content to consumers who already have paid for Internet access."

The goal of the protest is to garner public support in opposing the FCC's proposed changes. The FCC has already received upwards of 1.2 million criticisms on the issue. Mozilla, Urban Dictionary and Foursquare have also joined in the fight. So far, internet giants Google and Facebook have not participated in the protest, which will no doubt lessen its impact. Facebook did however make a statement that while it is not going to participate in the protest, it does support net neutrality.

"We urge the FCC to adopt enforceable rules against paid prioritization or the creation of internet fast lanes so that the internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce," commented a Facebook spokeswoman.

The final date to send comments to the FCC is September 15. Any internet user can use the still loading icon to signify their solidarity with this protest. On many sites the still loading icon is sarcastically being referred to as "the wheel of death."

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