An incredible thing is happening right now in protest of FCC plans to break the internet

A little bit of background:
To cut a very long and technical story short, every time you connect to Netflix, YouTube, or your high bandwidth website of choice, under existing laws, known as Net Neutrality, your Internet Service Provider is obligated to pass that data along to you at exactly the same speed at which they deliver data from every other website, regardless of size, popularity, or content type — at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

In reality, for the past few years, and at a steadily increasing rate over the last few months, some of America’s biggest ISPs have been secretly limiting the speed at which customers can access data provided by companies with whom they compete.

Following complaints from customers, who proved in a series of experiments that services such as Netflix were being deliberately throttled by the monopoly provider Comcast, Washington lobbyists, hand picked by the very same service providers guilty of breaching Net Neutrality, began to push legislation through which would effectively allow a charge per-megabyte policy to any company with high bandwidth requirements, so that they could gain access to a so-called “fast lane” service — meaning that smaller companies would be relegated to the slow lane, unable to compete with the larger players.

Naturally, the failure or simple inability of the Obama administration to stop this didn’t go down too well with the 99% of ordinary Americans, which this law would effectively relegate to using the crippled, poor cousin of the über expensive second tier internet, which the richest and most powerful corporations in the world would control.

Expect us
So, two days ago, a group of protestors outside the FCC building in Washington, began an #Occupy-style sit-in — demanding that this blatant attempt by the 1% to take control of the internet be blocked.

Then, today, web hosting provider NeoCities had the sublimely simple yet brilliant idea of showing the people who work at the FCC exactly what a two tier internet would look like — by posting a list of the internal IP addresses assigned to the FCC building, alongside a blog post explaining how other hosting providers could reduce the speed of content delivered to those IP address at something close to that of a circa 1995 dial-up modem.

The idea is, as we speak, taking ahold with other hosting providers around the world. These three threads on reddit alone have, as of 1am UK time, received over 4000 comments, and 12541 up-votes. The story has been picked up by arstechnica, arguably the most respected technology news site among web developers and industry insiders.

One comment notes, “If Google and GoDaddy got in on this it would be over in a day”. Another comment suggests that PornHub might also like to remind members of the FCC how much they cherish their ability to access the internet at speeds reasonable enough to stream the sort of “entertainment content” which is close to their hearts.

Meanwhile in Europe
Over here in the UK, we’re building up to the European Parliament elections in a few days time. One of the fringe interest parties, called UKIP, who have shook up the three main established parties by effectively running on an anti-everything to do with Europe ticket, is largely made-up of rightwing activists, closet racists, and ya-ya’s from the chattering classes; the money is no object types, who think giant corporations should be allowed to do whatever they want whenever they feel like doing it, no matter who it hurts.

In a recent debate on the BBC, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage faced questions from Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, on the specifics of what Farage, the ex-City of London financial trader and multimillionaire man of the people, disliked so much about the numerous European Parliament laws which protect consumers, and the environment, by holding large corporations to account.

Lucas specifically mentioned the recent passing of an act in the European Parliament which didn’t get the worldwide press it deserved — which effectively enshrined into law Net Neutrality, which will not only prevent the sort of thing from happening over here which is now taking place in the US, but would also guarantee that Telecom providers can no longer charge customers extra for using their phones outside of the country where they were purchased — effectively abolishing so-called roaming charges.

Farage’s response was to pretend he didn’t hear what Lucas was saying — which wasn’t difficult for him to do given that he was talking over her the whole time. – Net neutrality law adopted by European Parliament

DON’T LET THE FCC TALK OVER YOU. Take action. Tell your representatives that a two-tier internet is not an option. Ask them what they are doing to prevent this terrible legislation from being passed.

Sign this:

Read this:

Net neutrality and YOU – yes YOU!

With the invention of the printing press, thousands of people around the world were suddenly able to share their views with each other in a way that was inaccessible in times when specialist book writers, mostly the clergy, controlled all the information. As costs involved in printing on quality paper with quality inks spiralled, large publishers began taking away control over the independent presses and replacing them with content they produced in-house.

When the boffins in California first built upon Doug Engelbart’s vision of the future, in which a network of computers around the world would be interconnected, to exchange information, their lofty goals were dependant upon one very important principal. That there would be no difference in the kind of connection private individuals use to receive and transmit on that network to those of the connections used by giant corporations and government agencies. A level playing field, where Joe Blog’s blog has, theoretically at least, just as much chance of becoming a popular destination site as any produced by those of large commercial concerns.

That principal of network neutrality is under threat. The telecommunications companies who’s networks we pay to have installed in our homes and offices, want to syphon off sections of the network and give priority to companies they have content partnerships with – to the detriment, if not the complete removal of content from anyone else.

Anyone who has used BitTorrent or other Peer to Peer clients recently will be all too aware of the packet shaping which is slowing down these platforms because of pressure on the ISPs from organisations like the RIAA and other anti-piracy groups, who feel that the legitimate use of these platforms is outweighed by their use for illegal means.

Now, and for the last few years in fact, AT&T and other large American telcos, with subsidiaries in nations around the world, are using their huge influence with lobbyists in Washington, to persuade congress to overturn the net neutrality bill in favour of allowing them greater control over the content which flows over their fiber optic infrastructure. They want, for example, to be able to offer connection packages to customers which will only allow a tiered access to certain sites. They also want to charge the bigger internet companies a premium for delivering their content to customers who want to continue accessing the internet as it is today.

Imagine, for example, that struck up a deal with, let’s say, Yahoo!. Yahoo!, as a larger entity strikes up a deal with AT&T to carry all of it’s partner content. So, you continue being able to read this blog and the millions of others on and everyone is happy, right? Wrong. Because, on the other side of the pond, here in the UK, my Internet Service Provider is in competition with AT&T – and they don’t have a deal with Yahoo! in regard to the wordpress partnership. So while you can perfectly well read other wordpress sites, my ISP won’t allow me access to wordpress without upping the cost of my connection tariff to cover the price they are being charged by AT&T to enable non-partner content across their network.

Extrapolate that out across millions of web sites, thousands of law-suites and an endless ocean of piss and tears for ordinary stuck in the middle people like me and you and you’re somewhere close to seeing why it’s important for each and every one of us to call our political representatives and alert them to the issue and our concerns about it.

In the UK you can find your MP’s contact information here…

Ask your MP to look into any deals which may have been struck up between the government and companies like Virgin Media and BT, for example, in regard to this. Also, in the UK, bare in mind a recent development which saw Virgin Media (formerly NTL) strike up a deal with a company called Phorm who, given access by Virgin to your personal information, plan on infiltrating your net traffic to plant targeting advertisements in your browser and elsewhere.

Virgin Media, by the way, were once in negotiations with the Carlyle Group over a possible take over. The Carlyle group is the company who’s board is referred to as the ex-presidents club, because it counts among it’s number John Major, former British PM and George Bush senior – who was at a meeting of the Carlyle Group on the morning of September 11 with Bin Laden’s brother.