OpenMedia.ca is launching a week-long campaign, aiming to get people to sign a petition supporting net neutrality – the concept that Internet service providers should treat all Internet traffic equally, without giving any preferential treatment to certain types of content, sites, companies or groups, like making traffic to some sites faster than others.
Announced today, OpenMedia.ca, a B.C.-based Internet and consumer rights group, is trying to get consumers to sign an online petition that it’ll send on to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC will be creating regulations outlining its stance on net neutrality, but it’s still seeking public feedback on its proposal to allow telecom providers to demand “prioritization” fees. It has extended its deadline for comments until Sept. 15, though the original deadline was in July.
In collecting signatures for its petition, for the rest of the week, OpenMedia.ca is partnering with more than 60 tech companies and civil liberties organizations, including BitTorrent, Boing Boing, Daily Kos, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Greenpeace, and Reddit.
And by partnering with these groups, which are headquartered in about 25 different countries, OpenMedia.ca will also be sending the petition to national governments aside from the U.S. For example, here in Canada, OpenMedia.ca will send the information to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.
While the FCC is based in the U.S., a lot of the world’s most important tech companies are headquartered there, meaning any net neutrality regulations will affect Internet usage around the world, including within Canada, says Josh Tabish, campaigns coordinator on access issues at OpenMedia.ca.
“People outside the U.S. will see their access to places like YouTube, or Google, or Netflix impacted by the decision that comes down in the U.S.,” he says, adding this is a “teachable moment” for other countries looking to outline their own stances on net neutrality.
“The reason [for this campaign] was to take the attention the U.S. case was getting, and then show people around the world that this is kind of a warning moment. We need to stand up for open Internet and net neutrality rules around the world.”
Nor does net neutrality only affect businesses, Tabish says. He says Canadian startups would also feel the effects of changed net neutrality policies, with some of them potentially also seeing their sites forced into the “slow lane” of the Internet.