Can redditors influence lawmakers?
Civil liberties activists hold a rally against surveillance of US citizens by the National Security Agency (NSA) at the Justice Department in Washington on January 17, 2014. The NSA's activities are at the center of legislation that internet companies are hoping to influence.
Today a list of over 5,000 online companies and organizations want to help, and hurt, two separate legislation moving through capital hill. The bills deals with the NSA and Surveillance. Tumblr, Mozilla, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are all calling their efforts "The Day We Fight Back."
The website Reddit is also involved. Erik Martin, Reddit's General Manager, describes the pieces of legislation:
"One is called the U.S.A. Freedom Act, that's a bipartisan bill that would curtail some of the NSA's surveillance activities and abuses. The other bill, sort of a competing bill, attempts to legalize and codify the bulk collection of data and phone records, and that's the FISA Improvement Act. So 'The Day We Fight Back' is really getting people to show their support for the U.S.A. Freedom Act and show their disapproval of the FISA Improvement Act."
Martin admits that Reddit is entering a new and tricky area when it decides to push for certain laws over others. But he hopes that posts on Reddit's front page, which gets 19 million views every day, will inspire more dialogue about surveillance.
And maybe some real world action, like people calling their Congressional representatives. Two years ago internet companies helped kill the so-called SOPA and PIPA acts this way. Many felt those bills went too far in protecting intellectual property. The challenge here, Martin says, is getting people to pick up the phone again for an issue as murky as surveillance.
See Martin's call to action to Reddit users here.