US Court Ruling Could Allow American ISPs to Charge Extra for Fast Internet Speeds

Major brands in the US are taking part in an "Internet Slowdown Day" to protest against an American court ruling which overturned regulations that require ISPs to treat all data passing through their networks equally.

Those who oppose this move include Netflix, Reddit and Twitter. During the protest, many sites will display an animation of a spinning wheel to represent the longer page loading times they believe users will experience if data is not treated equally.

The reason the court decision is causing a stir is that it could lead to ISPs charging extra fees to deliver online videos and other content at fast speeds, while people who don't pay the extra charges will be held to ransom by having slow Internet download speeds.

Additionally, the protest campaign includes Internet users being directed to a video by US comedian John Oliver who explains the issue in plain speak. Thus far, the video has had over five million views on YouTube.

In contrast, brands and Internet users within the EU have nothing to fear, since the European parliament voted in April to prevent ISPs from charging for faster network access - this measure, if agreed by ministers, could become law across the entire European Union by 2015.

Tech law expert Mark Leiser commented on the dangers of the American ruling: "Only 10 years ago MySpace was the dominant social network; there was no Spotify and there was no Netflix. This astounding innovation came about in large part because of the principle of net neutrality - traffic should all be treated the same. Net neutrality has been the cornerstone of the Internet's innovation and if it ain't broke we shouldn't try and fix it."

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