Netflix has made a public declaration on behalf of net neutrality. On Thursday, the streaming giant took to Twitter with the message, “Netflix will never outgrow the fight for #NetNeutrality. Everyone deserves an open Internet.”
The account then linked to the Battle for the Net page, which promotes July 12 as an Internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality. It urges users and websites to join the protest that day:
“The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees. On July 12, the Internet will come together to stop them.”
Net neutrality prohibits internet service providers (ISP) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from taking control of internet usage by changing the speed of, or blocking, any content. The choice to go anywhere and communicate with whom you want on the Internet isn’t hampered by how well it works. If FCC chairman Ajit Pai succeeds in dismantling net neutrality, that might change. Net neutrality supporters fear an ISP could discriminate against certain applications, block websites with opposing opinions (or competitive offerings), and hike up fees to only service those who could afford it.
How the July 12 protest will play out is still unclear, although in 2014, certain sites like Tumblr and Reddit posted symbolic images of spinning wheels, the usual indicator that the site is taking its sweet time to load – a commentary on how ISPs could create fast or slow lanes arbitrarily. Ars Technica expects sites participating in the protest will also include information about Pai’s plans to dismantle net neutrality, as well as contact information for Congress and the FCC.
— Netflix US (@netflix) June 15, 2017
Netflix’s return to a strong opinion on net neutrality comes after the streaming service had wavered in taking a stand. Previously, The Verge reported that CEO Reed Hastings wasn’t as concerned with net neutrality because of the level of success Netflix had achieved. “It’s not narrowly important to us because we’re big enough to get the deals we want… we don’t have a special vulnerability to it.”
And indeed, a recent Forbes report had stated that the streaming service now has more subscribers than major cable networks. Netflix has been so successful that it only recently acknowledged a need to start canceling some of its shows, and subsequently dropped the ax on “The Get Down” and “Sense8.” But it was the protections of net neutrality 10 years ago that allowed Netflix to have the ability to flourish and become the powerhouse it is today.
By siding with net neutrality, Netflix is acknowledging that the internet should be open for everyone whether it’s for free speech, business purposes, private communications, organizing against social injustice, developing new technologies and more. Netflix joins companies such as Amazon, Reddit, Etsy, Vimeo, Kickstarter, OKCupid, Mozilla and many more in protest.
Recently, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” called for viewers to defend net neutrality, which resulted in the FCC website allegedly crashing from viewers looking to post comments. Here’s a refresher on the finer points of what might happen if net neutrality were taken away: