Recent news that the FCC may consider changes to net neutrality that would allow some content providers to pay ISPs for faster delivery speeds to consumers has many worried about the future impartiality of the Internet.
Alexis Ohanian, known for his work at Reddit and HipMunk, once placed protest advertisements and hired a billboard during the SOPA and PIPA battles. He’s back, this time looking to raise $20,000 via CrowdTilt to place a billboard in “the FCC’s backyard,” protesting the potential changes to net neutrality rules.
The project has thus far raised under $3,000.
What will it say? According to Ohanian, something along the lines of “Keep the internet free & open for all!” Or, a different slogan if a suggestion submitted is found superior.
Why is Ohanian pushing the effort? In his view, the potential changes to net neutrality would “kill” the concept, and “and replace it with a ‘cable-ized’ version that costs more for consumers, enables discrimination across services that make use of the net, and makes it harder to access the stuff that we access each day today.” Ohanian also correctly notes that the effect of a tiered Internet would be to harm innovation. (I’ve written about that effect previously.)
A billboard itself won’t do much to change the tone of debate in Washington, but it would indicate to those who in fact have power that there exists outside their social set enough people to execute at least moderate financial protest. And that’s something.