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E-retailers participate in Internet Slowdown protest

September 10, 2014 10:28 AM
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Visitors to Etsy.com today will see a bright orange bar at the top of the site with a stylized loading icon. The bar tells visitors: “Protect the Etsy Community From Internet Slow Lanes.” The bar also includes a button titled “Contact Congress Now” that links to a page with more information and an automated way to call the visitor’s local Congressional representative.

Today is “Internet Slowdown” day, a protest staged by Internet companies to raise awareness about the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rule that would allow Internet service providers to charge content providers—including online retailers, search engines and news and entertainment sites—a higher price for faster speeds.

Esty, No. 30 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is not alone in this fight. Seventy sites are leading the protest, including Netflix Inc., No 7; Google Inc.; Wordpress.com; Mozilla; and Reddit.

Etsy was involved in a lobbying effort in May that sent a letter to the FCC asking it to reject the proposed rule. Etsy, which serves as a marketplace for small businesses, says the rule would affect those businesses more than larger ones. "Any rule that allows some companies to pay for faster access to consumers would hurt the microbusinesses that depend on Etsy to sell their goods online," says Althea Erickson, the public policy director at Etsy.

The proposed change would have the largest effect on sites with a lot of streaming media, experts say. That would affect streaming video at Netflix and on Amazon Prime’s video service. But this could also affect e-retailers that use a lot of videos on their sites, such as Amazon’s Zappos, which features videos for many of the shoes it offers.

Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Top 500 also signed onto the letter to the FCC opposing the new rule. Amazon was not participating in today’s protest.

 

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