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Progressives look to harness consumer hate of cable companies

By   /   September 11, 2014  /   News  /   No Comments

By Josh Peterson | Watchdog.org

Photo Credit: Battle for the Net

A coalition of Internet companies and progressive advocacy groups are pushing net neutrality regulations to mitigate fears of cable companies extorting customers.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Progressive activists can feel your anger towards your Internet service provider.

The latest attempt to galvanize that discontent features a slew of online services warning cable companies could extort customers if the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t start treating ISPs like phone companies.

Net neutrality, which states ISPs cannot give content preferential treatment, is already a guiding principle of the Internet.

Activists campaigned on Wednesday in an attempt to convince the public that stricter regulation would preserve net neutrality and prevent the kind of extortion they fear.

Companies like Reddit and Netflix partnered with nonprofit organizations such as Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund and Public Knowledge to promote the issue through social media with banners, memes and the hashtag #InternetSlowdown.

“If the Internet were slow lanes, you’d still be waiting,” read one banner on Reddit’s homepage.

Progressive activists have been part of a decade-long project to generate grassroots interest in the issue. The substance of the net neutrality debate, however, can be found after wading through more technical and legal jargon than most Americans have the patience to understand.

They simply want their Netflix and YouTube videos to work without interruption.

California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo held a contest on Reddit ain August asking users to help rebrand net neutrality in the hopes of making the issue more accessible.

Her financial ties to Silicon Valley were highlighted in a previous report by Watchdog.org.

As of Wednesday afternoon, her office had yet to name a winner of the contest, which was supposed to be announced Monday, and preferred to stall when asked by Watchdog.org about the delay.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose district contains the major tech hub of San Francisco, also recently called for the FCC to regulate ISPs as a utility in the name of net neutrality.

Pelosi’s office didn’t return Watchdog.org’s request for comment about her motivations and ties to the tech industry.

Contact Josh Peterson at [email protected]Follow Josh on Twitter at @jdpeterson

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Josh Peterson is a writer and award-winning reporter focusing on technology, politics, culture, and national security. His current areas of interest include Internet governance, intellectual property, civil liberties, space, minority issues, climate and the environment, surveillance, cybersecurity, energy, and artificial intelligence. A contributor to Watchdog.org, he is currently a Robert Novak Journalism Program Fellow and previously served as Watchdog.org's national technology reporter and the Daily Caller's tech editor.