IMPACT

Net Neutrality Nonprofit Wins Reddit's Top Charity Vote

02/27/2015 03:00 pm ET
Eva Blue/Flickr

Proponents of net neutrality are marking Thursday’s historic ruling by doing what they do best –- further protecting the rights of Internet users.

In layman's terms, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) stunning decision means that broadband is considered a public utility (like electricity or telephone service) and Internet service providers can’t charge content producers a premium to give users more reliable access to that content. (For example: a CNN video would stream at the same pace as a no-name blogger’s eye-witness clip.)

A number of advocacy groups played instrumental roles in thwarting major cable companies and Republicans on Capitol Hill, including community news and networking site Reddit.

The same day as the victory, Reddit announced it would donate $82,765.95 to the Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that defends civil liberties in the digital world.

Together with technologists, activists, and attorneys, EFF works to defend free speech online and fight illegal surveillance, in addition to its other advocacy work.

Reddit is donating 10 percent of its 2014 revenue to a number of noteworthy organizations whose missions fall in line with that of the Reddit community. It named its recipients after 80,000 users cast their votes for U.S.-based nonprofits they deemed worthy of getting the funds.

The group also donated the same amount of money to nine other groups, including Planned Parenthood and Doctors Without Borders USA.

It comes as little surprise that Reddit users were keen on supporting EFF, considering the site’s commitment to protecting an open Internet.

Reddit's work was so critical in the FCC ruling, in fact, that President Obama personally thanked the site for its persistent efforts.

"This would not have happened without the activism and engagement of millions of Americans like you. And that was a direct result of communities like Reddit," Obama wrote in a letter. "So to all the Redditors who participated in this movement, I have a simple message: 'Thank you.'"

The movement started eight months ago when Redditor TheArmedGamer urged users to flood the FCC with comments related to its proposed anti-net neutrality rules.

That set off a whirlwind, leading to a record-breaking 3 million comments, according to The Washington Post, and more than 15,000 phone calls to FCC representatives, according to Reddit.

"A year ago, they said it'd be futile," Reddit wrote in a statement. "Today, we defeated opponents of net neutrality who have spent tens of millions of dollars every year lobbying government."

Find out more about the Electronic Frontier Foundation and how you can get involved here.

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