Net Neutrality Protests Move Online, Yet Big Tech Is Quiet
Protests to preserve network neutrality, or rules that ensure equal access to the internet, migrated online on Dec 12, with numerous online companies posting calls on their sites for action to stop a vote later this week. Reddit, Etsy and Kickstarter were among the sites warning that the proposal at the Federal Communications Commission to roll back so-called net neutrality rules would fundamentally change the way the internet is experienced. But the online protests also highlighted how the biggest tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, have taken a back seat in the debate about protecting net neutrality. For the most part, the large tech companies did not engage in the protest on Dec 12. In the past, the companies have played a leading role in supporting the rules.
Harold Feld, a senior vice president at Public Knowledge, said the biggest tech companies were less vocal because they were facing more regulatory battles than in past years. Social media sites have been criticized for allowing foreign actors to interfere in the presidential election of 2016. The biggest tech companies also face complaints from some lawmakers that they have become too large and powerful. “First, the major tech companies are very aware that Washington has turned hostile,” Feld said. “In this environment, the big tech companies try to keep a low profile and play defense rather than take positions that draw attention. “So with the dangers of standing up in D.C. greater, their existential concerns about net neutrality reduced because of their own massive size and a desire not to spook investors, it is unsurprising that Silicon Valley giants have melted into the background and have preferred to work through their trade associations,” he said.
Net Neutrality Protests Move Online, Yet Big Tech Is Quiet Net Neutrality Rollback Plan Draws Crowd of Protest (B&C) How Reddit and others “broke the Internet” to support net neutrality today (ars technica)