For Internet Slowdown Day, tech companies display mock 'loading' icons

Netflix, Kickstarter participating in Internet Slowdown Day in show of support for net neutrality

If you see the “spinning wheel of death” on some of your favorite sites Wednesday, don’t worry -- your Internet connection probably isn’t any slower.

But a whole host of tech companies displaying the iconic “loading” symbol Wednesday as a form of protest say it could be something to worry about if federal regulators pass new rules that change how Internet companies treat speeds.

Dozens of Internet-based companies such as Netflix, Reddit, Kickstarter and Etsy are participating in Internet Slowdown Day, a protest in support of net neutrality.

That doesn’t actually mean the sites will load any slower, but many are featuring the “loading” symbol as part of a campaign to urge users to contact lawmakers and the FCC.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering setting new rules for online traffic that could allow Internet service providers charge companies to deliver their content at higher speeds.

That doesn’t sit well with firms such as Netflix, which rely on speedy connections to ensure subscribers can binge-watch shows without interruption.

Some say allowing such rules would create an “Internet slow lane” that could leave smaller companies who can’t afford to pay in the digital dust, lead to higher prices for consumers and endanger free speech.

So supporters created the Internet Slowdown Day as a way to raise awareness about the issue.

On the Netflix homepage, a blinking red “loading” symbol appears next to the message, “If there were Internet slow lanes, you’d still be waiting.”

Crowdfunding site Kickstarter put a similar message on its homepage, and changed its Twitter avatar to a loading symbol, too.

“Big ISPs want the power to slow (and break!) sites like ours,” reads the website for Internet Slowdown Day, urging users to sign a letter that asks the FCC to “ensure the Internet does not become the bastion of powerful incumbents and carriers.”

Netflix is no stranger to battles over bandwidth.

Earlier this year, the streaming video service began displaying messages blaming buffer delays on customers’ Verizon network connections.

It later stopped the practice, after Verizon issued a cease-and-desist notice.

Net neutrality has spurred fierce public comments from many open-Internet advocates, at one point crashing the FCC’s website and forcing the agency to extend the deadline for input.

The deadline for this round of comments on the new proposed rules is Sept. 15.

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