FCC: We Won't Stop Until The Internet Is Safe!

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We’re camping out day and night on the FCC’s doorstep to defend net neutrality and keep the Internet free from discrimination and “slow lanes”

FCC Encampment 2

The FCC is proposing new rules that will be great for Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, but terrible for the rest of us. This agency has been surrounded by corporate lobbyists for too long. Help us surround FCC headquarters with people who love the Internet and want to keep it open.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is already struggling to defend his new rules proposal to allow fast lane net discrimination by his corporate allies at Comcast, Verizon and AT&T - but we need to keep building the pressure to get the other FCC commissioners on our side. The next week is a critical time. Before May 15th when the FCC holds its next Open Meeting, citizen pressure needs to continue to build to demand reclassifying the Internet as a common carriers, putting into law net neutrality and removing all obstacles that prevent locally controlled public Internet.

Courageous activists in Washington, DC set up camp outside the FCC building to protest the new net discrimination rules - we will not stop until the FCC drops the net discrimination rules. FCC LA protest at Obama fundraiser

Not only are we protesting in DC, but we’re also helping organize similar encampments at other FCC branches in 27 other citiesThis is getting bigger than anything the FCC expected. But in order for us to be successful, we need activists to come out and be a part of the action in DC. In Los Angeles, people came out to an Obama fundraiser to protest the proposal to end net neutrality. It is important for President Obama — who appointed all five Commissioners of the FCC — and members of the senate — who confirmed all five Commissioners — to hear from the public and let them know that if net neutrality is ended, so does their career. 

Here’s the best part: it’s already working. Before a single protester had even shown up at the FCC’s doorstep, we got a call from Chairman Tom Wheeler’s office asking what our message was, and saying they may be interested in meeting with us. That’s particularly interesting, since when we helped deliver more than 1 million net neutrality signatures to the FCC last month, they wouldn’t meet with us.

The first afternoon we saw divisions emerging among the Commissioners, with two Democratic Commissioners coming out against moving forward on Wheeler’s proposal. One said the FCC should take at least a month to listen to the public, another said, she would oppose any fee-based divisions on the Internet.

Wheeler, feeling the pressure, responded to thousands of emails sent to him from Popular Resistance with a carefully phrased response that did not answer our demands, but highlighted the differences between industry and the public interest.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai with Margaret Flowers

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai with Margaret Flowers

On the third day one of the five FCC Commissioners came out to talk with us. Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai was very friendly, he is quite a joke-ster. This seems to be his way of avoiding discussion. When we noted that it was embarrassing that the country that invented the Internet was now ranked at 30 or lower (depending on the rankings) in quality of the Internet.  Pai’s response “We’re better than Estonia.” Kevin’s response — “Yeah, but not by much!”  To the right is a photo of him talking with Margaret Flowers

After some friendly back and forth, he asked if it were a choice between the Chair’s proposal and doing nothing which would we choose. We said we are not limited to that choice. We want: reclassification as a common carrier so the Internet could be regulated in the public interest, net neutrality put into law and removing barriers to public Internet at the municipal and local levels.

Throughout the encampment FCC employees have been telling the campers how much they appreciate us being out there, that they agree with us and that they hope we succeed.  Many inside the FCC want to serve the public interest, not the corporate interests. While lawyers from industry have been hired to work inside the FCC they seem to be outnumbered by the staff of the FCC that is on the side of the people. The campers have been handing out literature during lunch hour urging people in the FCC to blow the whistle and let the public know what is going on inside the agency — how the mega-corporations are working to undermine the public interest. 

Now we know for sure we have the FCC’s attention, since they’ll have to walk past our encampment every day when they come to work. We’ve heard from our contacts in DC that Tom Wheeler was not expecting this kind of massive backlash to his net neutrality announcement last week. We are even seeing divisions in the business community. Two letters were sent to the FCC this week. One was signed by almost 150 tech companies — from 3 person start-ups to giants like google and Facebook — opposing the end of net neutrality. The other by 50 tech investors who told Wheeler that his proposal would undermine creativity and investment in the development of the Internet.  AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast have dozens of paid lobbyists surrounding the FCC daily, so we have to keep expanding the pressure and fight back against Wheeler’s proposal.

Media Coverage:

* DC Media Group, Public Outcry on Net Neutrality Rules Puts Pressure on FCC. Read More
* Al Jazeera America.”Open Internet backers stage ‘Occupy FCC’”. Read More
* The Guardian.”Protesters set up camp at net neutrality rally outside FCC headquarters”.Read More
* Democracy Now!.”Protesters Set Up Pro-Net Neutrality Encampment Outside FCC”. Read More
* BBC News.”Tech giants urge rethink of net neutrality changes”.Read More
* The Guardian. “FCC under increased pressure over threat to net neutrality”.Read More
* The Register.”Net neutrality protesters set up camp outside FCC headquarters”. Read More
* DailyDot.”Occupy the FCC: Net neutrality activists set up camp in Washington”. Read More
* Reuters.”Tech companies urge U.S. FCC to scrap ‘net neutrality’ plan”Read More

 Compilation of Photos

This is a modified version of information from Save The Internet!