Twitter and Netflix join ISP net neutrality internet slowdown protest

Internet companies join a slowdown protest against US plans to allow internet service providers (ISPs) to charge extra for prioritised network access

Twitter and Netflix are among top web firms to join an internet slowdown protest against US plans to allow internet service providers (ISPs) to charge extra for prioritised access to their networks.

Wordpress, Reddit, Mozilla, Foursquare, Digg and Boing Boing are also among the major technology firms to come out in support of the planned protest on 10 September 2014 in favour of net neutrality.

Participating sites will display a “site loading” icon, but not all will slow down services and will continue to run normally, according to the BBC.

The principle of net neutrality dictates that data packets on the internet should be moved impartially, without regard to content, destination or source.

The issue has been the subject of intensive lobbying and debate, with telecoms operators arguing they should be able to charge extra to internet firms that rely heavily on their investments in capacity.

Internet jurisprudence

In April 2014, members of the European parliament voted strongly in favour of proposed legislation to prevent telecoms network operators blocking or slowing down selected services for any reason.

But the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has voted in favour of proposals on the future of the internet that opponents say could create a two-tiered internet. Those unwilling or unable to pay the premiums set by network operators for unrestricted bandwidth would be relegated to an effective "slow lane', say critics.

The proposals were drawn up after a US appeals court ruled the FCC did not have the authority to impose the net neutrality rule, which requires high-speed internet companies to treat all web traffic equally.

Commercial concern

The FCC claims the proposed rules are aimed at preserving an open and free internet, but there has been mounting opposition to the proposal to allow ISPs to charge fees if they are "commercially reasonable".

Opponents say that, if smaller firms develop services that become popular, they will not be able to compete with larger companies that can afford to pay for access to fast-lane services.

A public consultation on the proposals on the future of the internet was initially set to close on 15 July 2014, but the deadline for comment was extended to 15 September 2014.

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