Technology

Week ahead: Tech gears up for net neutrality ‘day of action’

Greg Nash

Tech companies and activists will be mobilizing supporters of the net neutrality rules on Wednesday for an online “day of action.”

Many websites that have signed up for the demonstration will show their support for net neutrality by displaying “alerts,” warning the public about how the internet could change if the rules are rolled back.

The protest has already attracted some of the web’s biggest names. Amazon, Reddit, Twitter, Netflix, Etsy, Facebook and Google are all expected to join in.

{mosads}The online demonstration comes as the Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, is pushing a proposal that would roll back the legal framework for the internet rules, which block broadband providers from prioritizing or favoring certain websites or content.

The day of action will be one of the most high-profile events in the battle over the rules. The involvement of many tech giants has also heartened activists who worried that many of those companies would sit out the new fight over net neutrality.

The Hill on Friday confirmed Facebook and Google’s involvement, but the companies’ still haven’t shared details on how they will take part.

“We have not heard directly from either Facebook or Google, but we’re glad to hear that these companies are listening to their employees and Internet users and will speak out for net neutrality with the rest of the Internet on July 12,” said Evan Greer, an organizer for the event and campaign director for Fight for the Future.

“In previous years these companies have often been on the sidelines of these fights, so we hope that they plan to do something meaningful in the spirit of the protest and educate their users about what’s at stake if we lose net neutrality protections that protect our online free speech, and give them opportunities to take action.”

Along with the web companies, a number of public interest groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Free Press, Greenpeace and Change.org, are also taking part.

The FCC is currently accepting public comments on Pai’s proposal. The plan has already received a record 5.1 million comments. The first deadline to file comments on the docket is July 17.

The net neutrality protest won’t be the only big tech item on the agenda in the coming week.

On Thursday, one day after the demonstration, the FCC will hold its July open meeting.

Pai has declared July “Consumer Protection Month,” and as part of that effort the agency will be considering a rule to crack down on robocalls.

Another rule on the meeting’s docket would look to stop “slamming and cramming,” a deceptive practice where consumers are unwittingly switched to a different phone carrier.

The agency will also take up an item to strengthen rural phone call quality.

Pai has a busy week ahead. On Monday, he will be attending an event in West Virginia hosted by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) on improving rural broadband infrastructure.

The two have been pushed for doing more to bridge the digital divide between rural areas and cities.

Lawmakers will also be back in Washington after their week-long July 4th recess. Congress will be back for three weeks before departing for a month-long recess in August.

The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing on barriers to job creation and entrepreneurship stemming from joint employer standards on Wednesday at 10:15 a.m.

Also on Wednesday, the House Committee on Agriculture will hold a hearing on incorporating technology and innovation for specialty crops into the next farm bill at 10:00 a.m.

“[I]nnovation and technology will remain essential for farmers and ranchers to continue producing more food and fiber with fewer resources,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas).

On Thursday, the House Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property will have a hearing on the impact of “bad patents on American businesses,” at 10:00 a.m.

Patent issues have been at the center of several contentious Supreme Court decisions in recent months.

 

Recent stories:

Group asks FCC to delay net neutrality repeal proceeding

Google gives journalists money to use artificial intelligence in reporting

Facebook, Google to join net neutrality demonstration

Judge allows Twitter lawsuit over national security requests to move forward

Tech think tank urges Congress to expand research tax credit

FCC chair, GOP senator take rural broadband pitch to West Virginia

Qualcomm asks US to ban iPhone imports

YouTube stars urge FCC to save net neutrality

Microsoft to cut thousands of jobs

Trump’s CNN war could affect decision on approving Time Warner-AT&T merger: report

EU weighs new record fine against Google: report

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John Oliver hits Sinclair Broadcast Group for conservative bias

Trump reopens fight on internet sales tax

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