Internet Slowdown Day By the Numbers: The People Spoke About Net Neutrality

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Wednesday was another big day for Internet action as hundreds of thousands of Americans made their voices heard over the Federal Communication Commission's proposed "Open Internet" guidelines for Internet Service Providers.

During Internet Slowdown Day, more than 10,000 sites participated in the action by placing spinning "loading" symbols on their web pages, according to Fight for the Future, a public advocacy organization. The spinning symbols were meant to imitate a slow-loading site. It was a pointed protest criticizing the FCC's proposal to allow ISPs to charge websites for faster access to home Internet subscribers—a decidedly anti-net neutrality rule. To read more about the rationale behind the protest see our Internet Slowdown Day FAQ from Wednesday.

The FCC registered more than 111,000 new comments regarding its proposed guidelines on Wednesday, according to E Pluribus Unum, a site that reports on technology-related public policy.

But the FCC's registered comments may be just a drop in the bucket compared to what's coming in the next few days. Fight for the Future, which is leading the current net neutrality protest, says nearly 525,000 people sent comments to the FCC via the group's Battle For The Net website.

The discrepancy between Fight for the Future's numbers and the FCC's is likely due to the FCC's servers struggling to stay afloat under the number of hits it received in a single day. Fight for the Future says it will continue to work on delivering all of the comments it received to the FCC before the public comment cut-off period on September 15.

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A sample from Fight for the Future's infographic showing the results from Wednesday's protests.

Beyond comments to the FCC, Fight for the Future says that more than 1.5 million emails were sent to Congress, and another 286,000 people made phone calls to the Congress and the White House.

If Fight for the Future's numbers are spot on that means nearly 2 million comments—an unprecedented number—have been filed over the FCC's proposed guidelines, E Pluribus Unum reports.

If current trends hold after the new influx of comments, most submitted comments are voicing objection to the FCC's proposed rules. Earlier in September, the Sunlight Foundation estimated that of all the comments sent to the FCC by August 5 just one percent were in favor of the FCC's rules and opposed to net neutrality.

Even with all that public opposition to the new rules, however, there's no guarantee the FCC will bow to the public's wishes. The FCC commissioners are appointed and are not concerned with re-election the way senators and members of Congress are—a powerful tool during the SOPA/PIPA fight in 2012.

Not to mention that current protest numbers don't quite rise to the level of the SOPA/PIPA protests when 4.5 million people alone signed Google's petition against the proposed law. Google, a prominent part of the anti-SOPA/PIPA protests, has remained unusually quiet during the current Open Internet fight.

Ordinary citizens aren't the only ones making their voices heard at the FCC. Fight for the Future says ISPs are spending upwards of $1 million every week lobbying Washington politicians to support the FCC's new "laned" guidelines.

The FCC's public comment period for its proposed Open Internet guidelines will close on Tuesday, September 15.

This story, "Internet Slowdown Day By the Numbers: The People Spoke About Net Neutrality" was originally published by PCWorld.

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