As protesters wait for the FCC to vote on a new version of its net neutrality rules, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is trying to draw the attention of the Washington, DC public. This morning, Ohanian officially revealed a PSA poster that is filling advertising space around the city's bus shelters. The posters play on the transportation theme, delivering a "traffic advisory" about "gridlock and new fees" imposed by internet service providers, then asking readers to call the FCC in protest. They're the result of a crowdfunding campaign that reached its goal of $20,000 earlier this week, a success Ohanian attributes to a last-minute flood of over $2,000 in dogecoin from Redditors.
The posters aren't quite what the original campaign promised: a billboard as near the FCC office as possible, similar to the one erected outside SOPA author Lamar Smith's (R-TX) offices in 2012. Washington billboard space, it turned out, was too limited to make an effective protest with one. The design and slogan are also a bit more complex than "Don't mess with the internet." They call back to the idea of treating the internet like a road or other public good, putting sites like Reddit, Facebook, and Amazon at different "stops" along the map.
Two days remain until FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler officially unveils his new proposal, but it's already been debated roundly. Last month, leaked details revealed a provision that would allow ISPs to charge companies for better service, as long as it was within "reasonable" bounds. After public and corporate protest, Wheeler is said to have amended it, but we'll only find out for certain on Thursday, and Ohanian hopes he'll ultimately go further. "Wheeler's latest remarks are an indication that he's listening," he says, "but we're not going to rest until broadband is reclassified [under common carrier laws] as the utility we, the American people, know it is." If the FCC votes to adopt the new rules, there's sure to be more debate over the month-long public comment period that follows. Given the general ambivalence of other commissioners, though, that's far from a sure thing.