Google And Facebook To Join Net Neutrality Protests

Google and Facebook reportedly plan to join Amazon, Mozilla and hundreds of other web companies in an effort next week to rally support for net neutrality.

The businesses, along with advocacy groups are planning to participate in a July 12 "Day of Action," aimed at encouraging people to oppose Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to gut the net neutrality order.

That order, issued in 2015, reclassified broadband as a utility service and imposed several common carrier regulations -- including prohibitions on throttling or blocking content and on charging companies higher fees for prioritized delivery.

Pai recently proposed that the agency vacate the decision to classify broadband as a utility service, and instead classify broadband as an information service. If the agency does so, it may no longer have the authority to require carriers to follow common carrier rules -- including rules that prohibit throttling, blocking or paid prioritization. That's because a federal appellate court ruled in 2014 that the FCC can't impose common-carrier rules on information services.

The tech companies haven't yet said exactly how they plan to call attention to net neutrality on July 12. In the past, web companies have urged users to sign online petitions or contact public officials.

In January of 2012, Silicon Valley companies asked their users to oppose the anti-piracy bill Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have allowed companies to easily obtain court orders banning search engines from returning links to sites with pirated content. Google, which participated in a day-long protest against that bill, reported that 4.5 million people had signed its petition against the measure.

Separately, more than 100 online video creators who post on YouTube have signed an open letter opposing Pai's proposal.

They warn that rolling back net neutrality will give Internet service providers the power to become online gatekeepers. "These regulatory changes will give ISPs immense influence over how we as creators can connect with each other and our audiences," they write. "Internet providers will have new influence over how we as creators can connect with each other and our audiences, which will have major implications for the diversity of voices available online."

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