PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This is a big week for the Internet: the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday is expected to repeal net neutrality rules put in place during the Obama administration.
Tuesday brings an online protest effort designed to pressure Congress to take action to preserve the regulations.
There is shock value in the “Break the Internet” campaign: Reddit, for instance, is turning red and warning “you’ve exceeded your allotted bandwidth.”
But organizers say it’s really about ordinary people raising their voices.
“Internet users can get involved by changing their Facebook relationship status to say they’re ‘married to net neutrality,'” says Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight For The Future. “You can change your LinkedIn to say you have a new job defending net neutrality at battleforthenet.com.”
There’s a scowling, #StopTheFCC headband-wearing emoticon to supplant your social media profile photo.
“This is about whether all of us have a voice,” Greer says. “And so all of us need to use the Internet to get our voices out now before it’s too late.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argues net neutrality has “depressed investment and deterred innovation.” His fellow Republicans, who are in the majority on the commission, are all but certain to vote to shred the rules in effect since 2015.
At BreakTheInternetProtest.org, there are images to upload to the web and social media warning the site has been blocked or your browsing has been slowed — what supporters contend could happen when the FCC moves to repeal net neutrality.
“Polling consistently shows voters across political spectrum overwhelmingly agree: we don’t want cable companies controlling what websites we can visit, what apps we can use and where we get our information and news from,” Greer says.
Protest organizers are hoping people will turn their anger into action by calling their legislators.
“Congress is supposed to provide oversight authority for the FCC,” Greer says. “This agency has clearly gone off the rails. They’re not working for the public, they’re working for Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Congress needs to do their job and put pressure on them to cancel this outrageous vote.”