Drive Slowly

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is about to find out what it’s like to live in the slow lane. NeoCities has throttled connections from FCC headquarters to dial-up speeds in protest of the agency’s proposed net neutrality rules, which don’t address deals that allow companies like Comcast to charge other companies for better access to its network, and has posted the code used to do so  on GitHub. The FCC is paving new roads, and now it gets to drive on them.

“The FCC isn’t doing their job of protecting American consumers, or producers like Neocities users,” NeoCities creator Kyle Drake says in a blog post explaining the reasoning behind the change. “Perhaps they got a dump truck full of money from the cable corporation lobby, or perhaps they’re too busy surfing Neocities sites. Well either way, it looks like they need some help remembering what their job is.” (Drake is right — lawmakers have received plenty of cash from telecom companies, and the FCC is chock full with former cable lobbyists and attorneys.)

The protest is the latest sign of the tech industry’s discontent with the FCC’s proposed rules. It’s been a hell of a week for the FCC, actually: on Wednesday, a group of more than 100 tech companies sent the agency a letter complaining about the proposed rules; on Thursday, more than 50 venture capitalists from more than a dozen firms sent their own letter of disapproval. The FCC is preparing to handicap the tech industry — or allow companies like Comcast to destroy the free Internet, at least — and the industry is finally starting to protest.

But there is still some hope for the FCC. NeoCities is offering a “Ferengi Plan” that will allow the agency to remove the throttling for just $1,000 per month, payable in credit cards, Bitcoin, and Dogecoin. Surely the agency can afford to pay the same fees that Internet providers will charge other companies when its proposed net neutrality rules are shoved down our throats, right?

“If it bothers you that I’m doing this, I want to point out that everyone is going to be doing crap like this after the FCC rips apart Net Neutrality,” Drake says in his blog post. “It’s time for the web to organize and stand up against these thugs before they ruin everything that the web stands for.”

Given the threat posed by the FCC’s proposal, Drake couldn’t be more right.