People worry that new rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission will allow internet service providers like Comcast or Time Warner to throttle download speeds for the next YouTube or Netflix. And some are actively pushing back against the FCC through the press and political channels. But that’s not the only way to protest the commission’s new rules. Various companies and organizations have added code to their websites that kicks in whenever there’s a visit from someone who works at the FCC. While everyone else is enjoying these websites at ordinary broadband speeds, this code ensures that FCC staffers view them at dial-up speeds reminiscent of the 1990s.
The online protest is the brainchild of Kyle Drake, a Portland-based software developer. “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 wrote on his blog. He posted the code to his website on May 9, saying he would throttle the FCC’s bandwidth until the agency paid him $1,000 per year to get what he calls his “Ferengi plan,” a tip of the hat to the unscrupulous money-grubbing Star Trek aliens. Now countless others are using his code.
Drake’s code works with the popular Nginx web server, and now there’s a version for Apache, too. The software doesn’t actually slow the FCC’s internet. It merely serves webpages to the agency much more slowly, after checking a visitor’s IP address against a list of known FCC addresses.
Earlier this week, MaxCDN, a web service provider, rolled Drake’s code into its web management console, so any of its customers can throttle the FCC with the click of a button. So far, more than 130 have done so, says Justin Dorfman, the company’s director of developer relations. “We could have written a ‘me too’ blog post saying ‘MaxCDN supports Net Neutrality — blah, blah, blah,’” he explains. “But we decided this was a way to raise awareness of this issue, not only to our customers but anyone with an Nginx server who wanted to do the same.”