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Netflix to Join Internet ‘Slowdown’ to Call for Robust Net Neutrality Rules

Netflix is joining dozens of companies and organizations for a symbolic Internet “slowdown” on Wednesday to call attention to the need for robust net neutrality rules, currently under consideration by the FCC.

The company said that it won’t actually slow down its website or movies, but will feature a spinning wheel icon on member and non-member homepages, with traffic routed to battleforthenet.com.

“Cable companies are spending millions to gut net neutrality and slow your Internet to a crawl,” the site says. “We can’t let them.”

Netflix has been among the most prominent companies pushing the FCC to adopt strong net neutrality rules, including provisions that would prevent Internet providers from slowing down traffic for certain types of content or establishing special “fast lanes” in which a site could pay for better access to consumers. Netflix also has been complaining that Comcast and other Internet providers are charging interconnection fees, or agreements by video content companies to deliver a high quality signal to an Internet providers subscriber.

“Consumers, not broadband gatekeepers, should pick the winners and losers on the Internet,” Netflix said in a statement. “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. Any FCC rules must ensure access to content without ISPs favoring, impeding or charging particular content companies.”

Other companies participating include Reddit, CredoMobile, Boing Boing, Digg, Upworthy, Kickstarter, Foursquare, WordPress and Vimeo. Organizations taking part include the Writers Guild of America east and west, Common Cause and Demand Progress.

The Internet ‘slowdown’ evokes the 2012 SOPA “blackout,” in which hundreds of sites like Wikipedia went black for the day to protest proposed anti-piracy legislation. After congressional offices were inundated with calls, Senate and House leaders sidelined the bills, including the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act.

In contrast, the latest action will be symbolic, and the list of companies so far does not include Google, which was among the leading companies fighting SOPA and for a previous set of net neutrality rules that the FCC adopted in 2010.


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