Photo Credit: Jessica Silverman
Dozens of protesters braved wintry weather last week to demonstrate in front of a local Verizon store against the rollback of Obama-era net neutrality laws, joining thousands of others at more than 700 similar demonstrations across the country.
Today, a coalition of organizations, including Free Press, Center for Media Justice, Color of Change and other groups are demonstrating in front of Federal Communications Commission offices in Washington, DC immediately prior to a scheduled FCC vote to on ending net neutrality.
Toni Reed, a co-chair of the political group Indivisible Georgia District 10, said that the effort would make “access to the internet… based on what you can afford. Deregulation will only benefit the wealthy and large corporations.”
Sandra Fulton, government relations manager of Free Press, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, said that deregulation could have particularly negative impacts on minority organizations who use the internet to obtain support for their causes.
Fulton added that the FCC’s website shows that 22 million Americans have commented on the rollback of net neutrality, an almost unheard of response to a federal agency call for comment. “Most Americans support net neutrality,” she said.
“We are concerned that the big companies may want to begin offering packages of internet service highlighting different types of access, similar to cable TV packages,” Fulton said. These companies could also inhibit the way organizations such as Black Lives Matter reach their audiences.
The Free Press website called last Thursday’s demonstrations “the largest outpouring of support for net neutrality and internet freedom ever.”
The effort to overturn net neutrality is being led by Ajit Pai, President Trump’s FCC chairman, and is the subject of intense controversy. Pai’s resume on the FCC site shows that he was associate general counsel at Verizon about 15 years ago before beginning to work for the government.