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Internet slow lane? Worst. Idea. Ever.

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You've heard the story over and over again. A couple of college friends are sitting in their dorm rooms, messing around with some code, probably getting a bit tipsy. They come up with a great website or app idea, hack together a working version, drink a few more beers, and wake up the next morning a little groggy but with the next great online innovation happily blinking away on their screen.

All they need now is an Internet connection and a decent marketing strategy, and our college buddies are on their way to creating a billion-dollar idea that could revolutionize the way that we use the Internet, the way we interact with each other, and who knows what else.

This bits-to-billions success story encapsulates everything that we love about the Internet, but it could become a thing of the past if U.S. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proceeds with proposed rule changes that could create an Internet slow lane.

On Thursday, the FCC is holding a crucial meeting that could allow Big Telecom giants to impose expensive new fees on smaller websites -- effectively creating an Internet slow lane for everyone except deep-pocketed conglomerates. These rule changes represent a drastic reversal of the Net Neutrality policies that have allowed the Internet to grow into the thriving force for innovation that it is today.

Put simply, allowing Internet slow lanes is a terrible idea. Startups depend on equal network access to reach customers, to grow and compete with larger companies, to offer more choice to customers, and to invent exciting new services. Investment experts have highlighted how segregating Internet traffic into fast and slow lanes hurts the economy by stifling investment in startups and the tech sector. Even worse, these rule changes could potentially allow total censorship of content as ISPs could refuse to provide any bandwidth to websites that refuse to pay up.

The good news is we can still stop the FCC from approving their Internet slow lane plan. Go to https://OpenMedia.org/SlowLane and add your name. We're stuffing the FCC's comment system with a message the commissioners can't ignore. Our actions -- and those of our partners in the Internet freedom movement -- are already having a significant effect.

Politicians and celebrities are getting involved. People are camped out in front of the FCC offices in Washington. Websites are staging clever protests. The FCC Commissioners are starting to listen. Major tech firms like Google are speaking out against the FCC's plan to create slow lanes. Now we need you to add your voice.

Seriously, this is really, really important. The future of the Open Internet could be decided in the next two days. If the FCC meeting goes the wrong way, the Internet will change forever -- it will be more centralized, controlled, and costly.

Go to https://OpenMedia.org/SlowLane and sign up. Send a message to the FCC that they must act to preserve the Open Internet and innovation on the web.

These campaigns can really have an impact -- over 3.1 million people joined our call to Stop the Secrecy around the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in one of the biggest protests in Internet history. That caused the most powerful member of the U.S. Congress on trade to speak out about secrecy and commit to change. We can have that kind of impact here if we all join in. We can make the FCC listen and save the future of the Internet.

Let's work together to force the FCC to make the right decision and put a stop to the Internet Slow Lane. Go to https://OpenMedia.org/SlowLane right now, sign up, and share our message as widely as possible.

Once you've signed, make sure to share the campaign with everyone you know -- here are some handy share links to get you started.

Thanks for speaking up. I know we can win this if we stand together.

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