Reddit is mobilizing its community to help save net neutrality regulations, which are set to expire on April 23 in the absence of congressional intervention. In a post on the r/announcements subreddit, used by Reddit’s administrators for official communications, a Reddit spokesperson called upon the internet legions to contact their representatives and urge them to vote for a Congressional Review Act.
“The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is basically Congress’s downvote. It lets them undo the FCC’s order through a ‘resolution of disapproval,’” the announcement said.
It’s true — Congress can reject FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan by passing a CRA with a simple majority in both legislative bodies, starting with the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in January that 50 senators were already on board, so net neutrality supporters only need to convince one Republican senator to join the pro-net neutrality coalition.
The announcement, which had 130,000 upvotes at the time of writing, is part of Operation: #OneMoreVote, a coordinated day of pro-net neutrality action organized by advocacy groups Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, and Demand Progress. Reddit is just one member of a diverse coalition of websites, including Medium, Github, and Patreon, that are participating in Operation: #OneMoreVote.
The #OneMoreVoters hope that mounting public pressure will force at least one more lawmaker to support net neutrality rules. To that end, they’re asking everyone who supports the open internet to politely pester members of Congress and lobby for the CRA. There are also IRL demonstrations planned for Tuesday at the Capitol Building and the home offices of eight Republican senators.
If net neutrality supporters can’t conjure up that last vote, net neutrality protections will end on April 23. Prior to the FCC’s decision to change net neutrality rules, Obama-era guidelines ensured that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) couldn’t privilege some types of content over others by decreasing or increasing download speeds for particular websites. Without regulations, pro-net neutrality activists fear that ISPs will establish “slow lanes” and “fast lanes” for internet content. Companies or consumers that can afford to pay extra may get access to faster download speeds, while those with less resources would be relegated to the slow lane. This could lead to a tiered internet system in which smaller content providers can’t compete with larger companies and ISPs have the power to act as information gatekeepers.
If Operation: #OneMoreVote is successful, on the other hand, the Senate can affirm the CRA and send it to the House of Representatives for another vote (and probably another day of activism). If the CRA survives both legislative bodies, it would go to President Donald Trump’s desk for approval or veto. President Trump has supported the FCC’s decision to kill net neutrality up until now, but activists hope that a widespread demonstration of the public’s position could help sway his opinion. A lot of things need to go the right way for the repeal to pass, but net neutrality advocates aren’t giving up.
“The nature of our democratic system means that things can be roundabout, messy, and take a long time to accomplish. Perseverance is key. We’ll be with you every step of the way,” the announcement said.