Washington DC Braces For Net Neutrality Protests Later This Month
Above Photo: Protesters hold a rally at the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) in Washington, DC in 2015. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
A coalition of activists and consumer groups are banding together to express concerns over an FCC proposal to rewrite the rules governing the internet
Net neutrality advocates are planning two days of protest in Washington DC this month as they fight off plans to defang regulations meant to protect an open internet.
A coalition of activists, consumer groups and writers are calling on supporters to attend the next meeting of the Federal Communications Commission on 26 September in DC. The next day, the protest will move to Capitol Hill, where people will meet legislators to express their concerns about an FCC proposal to rewrite the rules governing the internet.
The FCC has received 22 million comments on “Restoring Internet Freedom”, the regulator’s proposal to dismantle net neutrality rules put in place in 2015. Opponents argue the rule changes, proposed by the FCC’s Republican chairman Ajit Pai, will pave the way for a tiered internet where internet service providers (ISPs) will be free to pick and choose winners online by giving higher speeds to those they favor, or those willing or able to pay more.
The regulator has yet to process the comments, and is reviewing its proposals before a vote expected later this year.
The activist groups are encouraging internet users to meet their lawmakers and tell them how a free and open internet is vital to their lives and their livelihoods.
Pai is a long term opponent of the current rules, which were brought in under the Obama administration. His proposals have sparked a firestorm of protest that led to the FCC’s comments system crashing under the weight of comments after comedian John Oliver ran a piece criticising Pai on his show Last Week Tonight. The FCC has claimed it was attacked by hackers but has yet to provide evidence.
“The FCC seems dead set on killing net neutrality, but they have to answer to Congress, and Congress has to answer to us, their constituents,” said Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future, one of the protest’s organisers.
“With this day of advocacy, we’re harnessing the power of the web to make it possible for ordinary internet users to meet directly with their senators and representatives to tell their stories, and make sure that lawmakers hear from the public, not just lobbyists for AT&T and Verizon,” she said.
Participating organizations in the protest include Fight for the Future, Public Knowledge, EFF, Center for Media Justice, Common Cause, Consumers Union, Free Press and the Writers Guild of America West.