Over the opposition of some of Washington’s most powerful corporate interests, an unlikely grassroots coalition came together and successfully lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to adopt the strongest net-neutrality rules possible.
This wasn’t a fluke. Just a few years ago, many of the same groups turned the Internet into a war zone over the Stop Online Piracy Act. They viewed the copyright bill, heavily backed by Hollywood and music interests, as an assault on the foundational freedoms enshrined in the Internet and launched an online guerrilla campaign that included thousands of websites shutting down in protest.
Lawmakers promptly killed the bill and fled for the hills.
Internet “slacktivism” is frequently derided as a passive form of political engagement that doesn’t translate to real-world results. But the wins on net neutrality and SOPA have shown that online campaigns can strike policy paydirt—particularly when the fate of the Internet itself is at stake. President Obama himself acknowledged this after the FCC’s vote, sending a note to reddit users thanking them for fighting to “keep the Internet open and free.”
Now, the ragtag group of activists may turn their attention to another wonky issue: the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And it would mean breaking their alliance with the White House.