The next weapon in the War on the Internet: the brownout

Perhaps we need Google, Microsoft, and other defenders of Net neutrality to give us a public example of Slow Lane Internet to show everyone where the FCC is taking us

Today the FCC voted three to two along party lines to move forward with a proposal that will significantly reduce the power and effectiveness of the Internet in the United States of America. Their proposal will also significantly limit innovation and will throttle startup companies and their embryonic technologies.

This is not a joke. This is not hyperbole or a prediction. The damage is already happening based on the threat of these rules.

[ Also on InfoWorld: The FCC has already started destroying the Internet | InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringely defends the FCC's Net neutrality approach.| Pick up expert networking how-to advice from InfoWorld'sNetworking Deep Dive PDF special report and Technology: Networking newsletter. ]

The vote today will be followed by a four-month period to allow for public comment. In the past week or two, there have been campaigns on popular techie sites and news aggregators to get people to call or email the FCC and express their displeasure about the proposed rules and to request that the FCC do what should have been done more than a decade ago: classify ISPs as type II common carriers.

In this age of blatantly bought-and-paid-for politicians and appointed commissioners that were lobbyists for the very industries that they are supposed to regulate, I'm not sure how much public opinion really matters. There is so much money in the game now that the threat of public distaste for a position doesn't hold much weight anymore. The prevailing thought seems to be that the will and voice of the people don't matter, that it's all about the corporation and keeping the money flowing.

However, there are some rather big dogs in this fight that have come out against these proposed rules. They are as large as Google and as small as a startup with a really good idea. If the voice and desires of the people don't matter anymore, maybe we can convince the corporations to duke it out for us. Fixing the larger mess and returning to a time when multinational companies did not run the government is another matter entirely, but let's assume for now that we have only this playing field within which to work.

So I propose that these companies begin demonstrating the realities of Slow Lane Internet to the population at large, to all users. NeoCities made some minor news recently by declaring that they were slowing down access to their site to the speed of a 28.8Kbps modem, but only to requests coming from FCC IP addresses. This demonstration needs to be more powerful than that.

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.

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