On September 15, the Federal Communications Commission will stop taking public comments on its net neutrality proposal. The proposal would allow for the creation of Internet "fast lanes" to those with the ability to pay for them.
Without net neutrality, the large cable companies and other ISPs would be free to provide multiple levels of service, and there is a concern that new ventures and up and coming entrepreneurs would be faced with a barrier to entry that they simply couldn't afford to clear.
But on Wednesday, September 10, tech companies who oppose the proposal including Etsy, Kicktarter, Reddit, Foursquare and Mozilla will raise awareness about the issue through a protest called the Internet Slowdown. The day of action is being spearheaded by organizations like Fight for the Future, Free Press and Demand Progress.
Those participating in the protest will affix a widget that looks like a looping "site loading" icon -- often referred to as the spinning wheel of death -- onto their sites, provided by battleforthenet.com. The icons aren't meant to slow down any of the sites, but to remind people of what the Internet could look without the protection of net neutrality.
Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson has been a vocal opponent of the FCC order, and explained why Etsy is be taking part in Wednesday's protest in a recent essay for Wired. "The FCC proposal threatens any business that relies on the Internet to reach consumers, stream video, process payments, advertise services or products, speak their minds, or do just about anything else," wrote Dickerson.
In August, the FCC announced that it will also be holding a series of roundtable discussions that will be livestreamed and open to the public through October. Until the 15th, citizens can publicly file comments through the FCC or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.