Above Photo: Free Press/ Flickr
Angry Internet users will demand that members of Congress oppose Verizon-controlled FCC’s attack on the open web
Internet users outraged by Verizon-lawyer-turned-FCC-Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to gut net neutrality are planning to protest at Verizon retail stores across the country on Thursday, December 7th, one week before an expected vote at the FCC. In some cities, protesters will march from Verizon stores to lawmakers’ offices.
The protests will highlight the company’s role lobbying to kill rules that prevent telecom giants from charging extra fees, engaging in censorship, or controlling what Internet users see and do through discriminatory throttling. Protesters will carry signs calling on their members of Congress to speak out against Verizon’s attacks on net neutrality and publicly oppose the FCC’s plan, which is expected to be released this week.
See the website announcing the protests here:VerizonProtests.com
Ajit Pai’s plan is expected to contain a “total repeal” of net neutrality protections, posing a grave threat to the future of freedom of expression, access to information, and small businesses particularly for communities of color and low income communities.
The December 7 protests represent growing grassroots backlash to the FCC’s plan, which polls show is wildly unpopular with people from across the political spectrum. The events are supported by Team Internet, a grassroots network of nearly half a million volunteer activists spearheaded by Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and Free Press Action Fund, three of the groups behind the massive July 12 net neutrality day of action that drove millions of comments, emails, and phone calls to the FCC and Congress. Over recent months the groups behind the protests have organized thousands of constituents to attend more than 600 town halls and meetings with lawmakers to demand their support for net neutrality. A phone call campaign through BattleForTheNet.com has generated nearly 250,000 phone calls to legislators offices.
At the protests participants will be encouraged to take a group photo and tweet it at their local members of Congress. Where possible, protesters will march to a nearby lawmaker’s office and deliver petition signatures.
Protests are currently planned in Phoenix, Denver, San Francisco, New York City, Indianapolis, Miami, Boston, Seattle, and several other cities across the country. They’re being organized by volunteers in a grassroots manner using email, texting, and social media. Local Internet users can volunteer to host a protest, and then connect with other volunteers in their area and encourage them to attend. There will be a special protest event in Washington, DC, details are TBA.
“This is the free speech fight of our generation and Internet users are pissed off and paying attention” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents. The corrupt bureaucrats trying to kill net neutrality are hoping to avoid public backlash by burying the news over the Holiday weekend. We’re taking our protest from the Internet to the streets to make sure that doesn’t happen,” she added.
“While FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been busy meeting with industry lobbyists and greedy Verizon executives, he should not ignore the millions of people who are joining together to reject his plan to kill off Net Neutrality,” said Free Press Action Fund Field Director Mary Alice Crim. “People in almost every state across the country have been meeting with hundreds of members of Congress and their staff, organizing others in their communities, and speaking out on behalf of the open internet. They know that the open internet is essential for accessing everything from elder care to mental health services and they’re willing to fight for it. This momentum of popular support for Net Neutrality will spill into the streets beginning Dec. 7 as people protest Pai and his corporate cronies outside Verizon stores nationwide. Our message to Pai and Verizon is clear: people everywhere will not sit idle as you destroy the free and open internet.”
“Americans are sick and tired of lawmakers placing the profits of monopolistic companies like Verizon and Comcast above the interests of ordinary people,” said Mark Stanley, Director of Communications for Demand Progress. “Outside Washington, support for strong net neutrality is widespread, regardless of political affiliation. Now, with what would be a catastrophic vote by the FCC to repeal net neutrality looming, people are ready to take to the streets in protest and to offer Congress one last chance to answer the question: ‘Do you stand for your constituents’ ability to communicate and connect, or do you stand for Verizon’s bottom line?’”