Net neutrality looked like a lost cause—or did until Tuesday. That’s when Amazon changed the game by signing on to a nationwide “Day of Action” set for July 12 that will see companies do things like put messages on their websites in order to show support for the FCC’s current net neutrality rules.
Those rules, which are now on the chopping block, forbid Internet providers from giving special treatment to some websites over others and—in the view of net neutrality advocates—are essential to prevent telecom companies from abusing their power.
The reason Amazon’s arrival to the debate is so important is because it’s the first tech giant to come out strongly in favor of net neutrality. While other tech firms—including Reddit, Kickstarter, and Etsy—have signed on to the Day of Action, they’ve long been on record as net neutrality boosters, and possess nothing like Amazon’s size and influence.
Amazon’s advocacy is also likely to persuade other major companies, none of whom relish a fight with the powerful telecom lobby, to be more vocal in support of net neutrality. Meanwhile, the Chair of FCC and Republicans in Congress, who have been treating the end of net neutrality as a done deal, will also take note of Amazon’s entry into the fray.
It’s unclear what exactly Amazon and the other coalition members have planned for July 12th, but reports suggest the tactics will resemble those of “Stop SOPA,” a unique and successful grassroots initiative in 2012 to stop a controversial copyright law. That campaign involved many popular websites putting banners on their homepage, or even blacking out part of their website, to draw attention to the issue.
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Amazon, which reportedly reaches half of U.S. households, has ample ways to rally support for net neutrality, including its website, its email lists, or one of its entertainment platforms like Amazon TV or Echo speakers. For now, though, the company is avoiding specifics.
“I can confirm we’ll be participating, but we don’t have anything else to share at this time. Check back with us on the 12th,” an Amazon spokesperson tells Fortune.
Meanwhile, Even Greer of Fight for the Future, which is organizing the Day of Action campaign, says he appreciates the company’s support but that the fight for net neutrality—like the previous one two years ago—will be determined by grassroots activists.
All of this, though, may not save net neutrality, which is set for a vote this summer. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer and staunch anti-regulation ideologue, has made clear he intends to tear up the rules, and has the votes to do it.
But Amazon’s arrival just made the fight a lot more interesting.