"This could be the single most important moment for net neutrality this year."
That was Fight for the Future's urgent message to internet users across the U.S. on Thursday as the group announced a massive online protest to prevent telecom-backed lawmakers from gutting the Save the Internet Act while no one's looking.
"Telecom lobbyists are working overtime to convince these lawmakers to add bad amendments that could completely gut the bill."
—Josh Tabish, Fight for the Future
On Monday, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee is expected to begin marking up Democrats' net neutrality legislation, which has been hailed as the best plan to restore the open internet.
To stop telecom-friendly lawmakers from using the amendment process to eviscerate the Save the Internet Act, Fight for the Future is attempting to make the livestream of the committee hearing go viral.
The goal, said Fight for the Future, is to send lawmakers a simple warning: "The whole internet is watching."
"Politicians seem to still be under the false impression that they [can] put the interests of giant telecom companies ahead of the basic rights of their constituents and get away with it," Evan Greer, deputy director of the advocacy group Fight for the Future, said in a statement. "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."
In an effort to "plaster the livestream everywhere on the internet," Fight for the Future is calling on websites, online communities, and individual internet users to spread the hearing using its embeddable widget.
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A committee vote on the Save the Internet Act is expected as early as Tuesday.
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) March 21, 2019
"Telecom lobbyists are working overtime to convince these lawmakers to add bad amendments that could completely gut the bill and leave gaping loopholes for Internet providers to block, throttle, and charge users new fees," Josh Tabish, a tech fellow at Fight for the Future, wrote in an email to supporters on Thursday.
"If we get the bill out of committee without any bad amendments, then we have a solid shot of winning the next big vote on the House floor," Tabish said. "But if the bill gets gutted, we're back to square one."
The online protest to ensure the Save the Internet Act emerges out of committee intact comes as a new poll found that 80 percent of Americans overall—and 77 percent of Republicans—support net neutrality.
"The overwhelming majority of voters want real net neutrality protections restored, they're not going to tolerate any funny business or trojan horse amendments pushed for by telecom lobbyists," Greer said.