Today, September 10th, sites across the web – including Netflix, Tumblr, reddit, Mozilla and many more – are displaying a “loading” symbol (many examples of which are illustrated above) to simulate what it would look like if the internet slowed down. This symbol, for those protesting, is the proverbial “spinning wheel of death.”
Why are they protesting? Simply to stop any changes to net neutrality. Net Neutrality refers to a group of laws that were passed in 2010 that prohibits internet providers from discriminating against certain websites. Unfortunately, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is under a lot of pressure from big cable companies to modify these rules. Though it is not exactly clear that the FCC plans to change these rules in a way that compromises the “free and open” internet, many are worried that net neutrality is on its way out.
Without net neutrality, internet providers – many of whom are big cable companies – will be able to grant higher speeds to sites that pay certain fees and they could also slow down sites which cannot pay those fees. The internet is the only truly democratic space that exists currently (and even this is arguable): using money to discriminate against sites could change it.
Activists have been hard at work trying to convince the FCC to make sure net neutrality is not compromised, and today’s slowdown is their way of raising awareness about the issue. The websites are still running at their normal speeds but anyone who clicks on the spinning wheel of death will be directed to more information about net neutrality and so on.
Post submitted by Kanyin