Get ready if your daily website stops include Pornhub, Reddit or Tumblr: These popular websites — and many more — are going red in a last-ditch effort to save net neutrality.
When you log in on Wednesday, you’ll find a big red banner aimed to distract you from clicking through to cute dog gifs or a sexy video. The “Red Alert for Net Neutrality” banner will be there to bring attention to the fight for a free, equal internet. Once on a participating website, you’ll be asked to fill out a form asking Congress to block the repeal of net neutrality.
Isn't net neutrality dead?
The Federal Communications Commission, led by Ajit Pai, voted last December to end net neutrality. Basically, net neutrality was made to keep the internet equal — and prohibited prohibiting internet providers from blocking or throttling access to the web.
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Net neutrality was officially “dead” on April 23, but it hasn’t really taken effect yet — and it might not at all. On Wednesday, Democrat Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts will try to force the Senate into a vote to reverse net neutrality under the Congressional Review Act. The Act allows Congress to overturn decisions made by federal agencies.
And Markey has support: 50 senators plan to back the legislation — all 50 Democrat senators and Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine. It could pass 50-49 if all senators in support vote for it (Republican Sen. John McCain is battling cancer and won’t be part of the vote).
How will the Red Alert save net neutrality?
Basically, it’s online activism that puts the issue front and center.
The banners are meant to encourage people to contact their representatives and urge support for a vote.
But even if the vote does pass, it faces stiff opposition with Republicans, who by and large support net neutrality — and the party currently controls the House of Representatives. President Trump would then need to sign it — unlikely, given his views on the issue. If he did veto, Congress would have to override a veto with a two-thirds vote.
How to help save net neutrality
You can do your part by frequenting participating websites — including Pornhub, Reddit, Mozilla, OK Cupid, GitHub, Tumblr, Etsy, BoingBoing, Vimeo, Imgur and Foursquare — and filling out the forms. Any website can download the free templates, so you can even add it to your own websites.
And on the bright side: All is not lost if net neutrality does die on a federal level. Proposed legislation in California and Washington aims to ban internet providers from throttling customers or offering paid "fast lanes" to access the web.