A new, unexpected voice has joined the debate over net neutrality regulations.
The fast-food chain Burger King on Wednesday released a new ad that argues against the repeal of the Title II rules, which the Obama administration first implemented in 2015.
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Net neutrality classified internet service providers as public utilities, rather than information services, for the first time in history, giving the government broad power to regulate them and how companies manage traffic over their own networks. Under the Trump administration, the Federal Communications Commission voted last month to repeal the regulations.
The vote was led by FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who has received death threats for supporting the repeal of net neutrality rules.
Weeks after the vote, Burger King has joined a long list of late-night hosts, Democratic lawmakers, mainstream media outlets, and liberal activists on social media who decried the FCC decision as a threat to a free and open internet.
To explain the effects of repealing net neutrality, the fast-food chain compares the complicated rules to its famous Whopper sandwich, creating "Whopper neutrality."
In the ad, Burger King conducts a "social experiment," charging three different prices for a Whopper. The prices depend on mbps (making burgers per second), modeled after the measurement for internet speeds, megabyte per second (mbps). If customers want a Whopper with "hyperfast" mbps, they need to pay $25.99, and if they want the Whopper with "slow" mbps, they only need to pay $4.99. ("Fast" mbps cots $12.99.)
Burger King says that it used real customers in the ad.
The customers become frustrated when they learn they have to pay more to get a burger faster, even if the burger is already made and ready. At one point in the video, two customers use expletive language and another grabs the burger from an employee's hands.
Customers are told about the social experiment after they receive their food and say that Burger King opened their eyes to why net neutrality rules need to stay in place.
At the end of the ad, the Burger King mascot appears to mock Pai by drinking out of a Reese's candy mug similar to Pai's.
"This effort aims to help people understand how the repeal of net neutrality will impact their lives," Burger King says in the description of the YouTube video for the ad. "[Burger King] believes the internet should be like the Whopper sandwich: the same for everyone."
"Help keep net neutrality safe by signing the petition at Change.org/SavetheNet," the fast-food chain says.