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Tech companies join protests of FCC’s net neutrality rollback plans

Tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter, have joined together Wednesday for a “Day of Action” against a possible rollback of net neutrality regulations.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering changes to regulations requiring Internet service providers to treat all data and customers equally online.

In 2015, the FCC changed the classification of broadband to treat the service like a public utility — requiring equal access with the same speeds to receive information. Broadband and wireless providers say the regulations are based on an outdated law designed for the old telephone network and that they hamper their investments in networks.

New FCC Chair Ajit Pai believes these regulations go too far. Internet service providers and cable companies argue that regulations enacted in 2015 intended to protect net neutrality are the wrong approach, and that a “light touch” is preferred.

The tech powerhouses, plus 80,000 other top websites and organizations, have joined together against the possible changes, demanding continued equal access.

Websites are displaying banners, pop-ups, push notifications and videos urging visitors to tell the FCC what they think.

Google is using the power of its search-engine supremacy. When users search “what is net neutrality” or “net neutrality day of action,” they will get a call-out box with information at the top of their results.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged his support for net neutrality protections, offering to work with Congress on the law.

“If a service provider can block you from seeing certain content or can make you pay extra for it, that hurts all of us and we should have rules against it,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “Right now, the FCC has rules in place to make sure the Internet continues to be an open platform for everyone. At Facebook, we strongly support those rules.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also wrote a blog post about the issue, saying the “FCC should abandon its misguided effort to obviate all the work that has been done on behalf of all Internet users.

Smaller websites published stories on their front page.

“In true Internet fashion, every site is participating in its own way,” Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, told NBC News. “Most are using our widgets that allow visitors to easily submit comments to the FCC and Congress without ever leaving the page that they’re on. Many are getting creative and writing their own code or displaying their own banners in support of net neutrality that point to action tools.”

More than 4 million consumers lodged their comments in 2014 — the last time the FCC took public comment. Comments now can be made on the FCC website.

In an April poll from Morning Consult, 61 percent of consumers strongly or somewhat support net neutrality rules.

The Internet & Television Association, the primary broadband and cable industry trade group, proposes scrapping the regulations, which treat broadband like a “common carrier,” required to transport “passengers” of data at the same rate. The NCTA said its proposal “empowers the Internet industry to continue to innovate without putting handcuffs on its most pioneering companies.”

“The internet has succeeded up until this point because it has been free to grow, innovate, and change largely free from government oversight,” the association wrote in 2014.

In 2015, the FCC applied “1930s-era utility-style regulation to the Internet,” the FCC said in a posting.

“That decision appears to have put at risk online investment and innovation, threatening the very open Internet it purported to preserve,” the FCC said.

Pai, in a speech at the Newseum in Washington in April, said: “Two years ago, I warned that we were making a serious mistake,” Pai said. “It’s basic economics. The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get.”

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