Several large U.S. tech firms have pledged to “go slow” for a day in order to protest a pending federal decision that could add fast and slow lanes to the Internet. But fear not, the slowdown campaign won’t actually curb your surfing speeds. Rather, companies such as Kickstarter, Reddit, Mozilla, Etsy, and Foursquare, have committed to using some form of a widget or banner that shows a revolving wheel-like icon to symbolize slow loading on Sept. 10, five days before the Federal Communications Commission’s comment period on proposed internet rules are scheduled to end.
As the FCC prepares to close public comments on its net neutrality proposal, major internet companies are organizing a protest to raise awareness. Reddit, Etsy, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Namecheap, Vimeo, and others will observe next Wednesday — September 10th — as a day of action, during which they’ll showcase net neutrality issues on their sites and drive visitors to contact the FCC, Congress, and the White House. The protest, like many previous, smaller ones, warns of a potential “internet fast lane,” in which ISPs and online services could reach deals for better service and leave the rest of the web behind. Among other things, sites will post banners that mimic a loading wheel to dramatize what a slowed-down internet could look like. Several banners and widgets have been posted ahead of time by Battle for the Net, a project backed by Fight for the Future, Demand Progress (founded by the late internet activist Aaron Swartz), and other nonprofit organizations. While there’s not much information on the banners themselves, Battle for the Net backs one of the most popular options for preserving net neutrality: reclassifying broadband under the Title II common carrier laws that regulate phone service.