If Google, Microsoft, and all the others began instituting a 3 to 8 second random delay per page load on their public sites and free services, complete with an overlay describing the reason, we might actually get somewhere. If every request for the Google search page from the U.S. didn't result in immediate gratification, but a random delay and a message ("Your request is waiting to be processed. This is what to expect the Internet to be like if the Slow Lane Internet proposed by the FCC is fully approved. Please click here to register your comments."), people would begin to see what's at stake here.
Even one day of this inconvenience would awaken just about every Internet user to the realities of what the FCC is proposing. You could get more involved and enforce sporadic delays during normal app use, again with overlays describing the situation, stopping shy of crippling the user experience, but with enough hassle to get the point across.
Having to wait 3 or 8 seconds before the email you clicked can be read, or the next page of search results will display, would quickly get old, even if it only affects a user for the first few page loads and then stops. The reality is that this kind of user experience is exactly what's in store for all U.S. Internet users should these rules truly take effect. Giving them a preview of what's at stake may be the only way to actually stop this madness.
It's easy to point out that such a protest could and would have deleterious effects for the companies that participate, but if enough take part, it will definitely make a difference. To defeat SOPA a few years ago, some sites went completely dark for 12 to 24 hours, displaying only a notice explaining why they were offline. This doesn't go quite that far, but it offers a real-world Slow Lane Internet experience. As the situation changes and the public comment period shortens, maybe the delays grow longer. Maybe another blackout is warranted.
Can you imagine the fallout if Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook all blacked out their free sites for U.S. use for 24 hours? It would be absolute chaos. Sure, they would lose money, but it would be far less than they would be forced to pay out to the ISPs monthly in the event that Slow Lane Internet becomes law.
It would also underline the fact that the Internet is a public utility, and an Open Internet is an absolute requirement. This is non-negotiable, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler needs to step down or be removed from office if he cannot see this requirement and enforce it.
This story, "The next weapon in the War on the Internet: the brownout," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.