On Wednesday morning, net neutrality protesters saw further evidence of the impact of grassroots organizing as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler came out to meet with the Occupy the FCC encampment which has surrounded the FCC headquarters in Washington, DC with tents, protest signs, and banners since May 7th.
He was followed later by Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. This means a majority of the five commissioners have visited the encampment to talk with protesters. On Friday, Ajit Pai will meet with the protesters.
Activists from Occupy the FCC say they are glad that the FCC has been responding to public pressure, but won’t be satisfied until the agency takes meaningful action. (via Fight for the Future)
KEVIN ZEESE, kbzeese at gmail.com, @KBZeese
Zeese is an organizer of PopularResistance.org and is protesting proposed net neutrality rules at “Occupy the FCC”. He said, “It is great that Wheeler came to the encampment to talk with us but he is still in favor of a solution that will not work. Section 706 does not give the FCC the authority it needs to ensure real Net Neutrality protections. This approach has lost in court twice. The only reason he will not take the approach necessary, reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier, is because the mega-telecom companies — whom he used to work for — do not want it.”
MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D., mdpnhp at gmail.com, @MFlowers8
Flowers is also an organizer of PopularResistance.org and is also protesting at “Occupy the FCC”. She said, “Wheeler came to the encampment because public pressure is mounting. We have gotten strong media coverage, not only in the online community, but in Time Magazine, the Washington Post and other corporate media outlets. He has backtracked from his initial proposal — that would have ended net neutrality and set up a tiered Internet based on fees — because of public pressure. He has received more than a million emails favoring net neutrality as well as thousands of phone calls while our encampment has been growing on his doorstep. It is going to take escalating public pressure to respond to the telecom giants who will be fighting the public interest every step of the way.
“Wheeler was forced to come to the camp at Occupy the FCC because it is growing and the majority of the public, FCC employees, tech companies and media are united in their support for returning the Internet to common carrier status. Now what we need is action, not photo ops. Let’s open this debate up to the people in a public forum. We say ‘no’ to backroom deals with industry giants.”
TIFFINIY CHENG, press at fightforthefuture.org
Cheng is co-founder of Fight for the Future. She said, “We want the Chairman to understand that we won’t settle for anything less than making the last mile of the Internet net neutral. Chairman Wheeler, saying that you promise to keep pre-peer ‘open,’ meaning according to your rules that there will be fast and slow lanes, is obviously not enough. The only way to ensure that we have a net neutral Internet is to reclassify under Title II.”
KEVIN HUANG, press at fightforthefuture.org
Huang is campaign manager with Fight for the Future. He was present during Wheeler’s visit to the protest and said, “Wheeler is speeding towards the quickest solution by proposing rules instead of structural change through reclassification. His plan is a band-aid that can easily be peeled off by the courts or the next chair. The people want the Internet to be returned to its original status as a common carrier so that the FCC has real power to represent the public’s interest against telecom giants and the public has a mechanism for accountability.”
AMALIA DELONEY, amalia at mediajustice.org, @guatemalia
Deloney is policy director at the Center for Media Justice. The Center’s national organizer, Steven Renderos, will speak at the FCC today. In addition, the Center is hosting an Instagram Action today. She said, “Today’s fight is critical to the communities we represent. At stake is our ability to tell own stories in our own words, to represent our communities struggles accurately, and to be able to organize for the changes our communities need — across critical systems like education, employment, and immigration. All of this is threatened if our communications systems — and the agency meant to defend our public interest — decides that corporations matter more than we do, and second class service is what we deserve. Though discrimination is nothing new for our communities, it doesn’t make it any more acceptable. Internet freedom is what we want, and we’ve told the FCC how to get there. Today’s meeting provides an opportunity for the FCC to deliver our communities want and need, Internet freedom!”
CRAIG AARON, via Tim Karr, tkarr at freepress.net
Aaron is the President and CEO of Free Press. He said, “For Chairman Wheeler the choice is simple: Either side with the phone and cable lobby and set in motion the end of an open network that is so vital to so many, or stand with millions and millions of Internet users everywhere who have called on the agency to treat Internet service providers as common carriers. He can either abandon President Obama’s pledge to ‘take a back seat to no one’ on net neutrality, or get in the driver’s seat.”
Aaron also recently wrote the piece, “The FCC’s Flimsy Defense of Fake Net Neutrality,” in which he writes, “Try as he might to convince people that he’s on the right course, Wheeler doesn’t seem to grasp one basic problem: Encouraging online discrimination in the name of the open Internet is unacceptable.
“Yet that’s exactly what his plan would do: allow Internet service providers to charge new fees to content companies for preferential treatment. …
“The chairman claims he has no choice and that a January court ruling against the FCC pointed only one path forward — to a world where online discrimination is de rigueur. He says he’s making the best out of the FCC’s remaining authority in this realm.
“But that’s where his defense falls apart. The court said the FCC must allow discrimination — unless it reverses a 2002 decision and moves to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers under the law.
“If the chairman truly wants to do right by the Internet and avoid losing another costly court battle, reclassifying broadband is the only viable option. …
“Reclassification is the approach on the strongest legal footing. Reclassifying broadband is also the only approach that puts the needs of Internet users first. Innovators need the certainty that comes with common carriage, not Wheeler’s ‘just trust me’ approach to stopping harmful behavior by AT&T, Comcast or Verizon.”
TODD O’BOYLE, TOBoyle at commoncause.org
O’Boyle is program director for Media and Democracy at Common Cause. He said, “The FCC has laid the groundwork for fast lanes online for the 1%, and a slow lane for the other 99%. In so doing, it stands to foreclose the openness that has made the Internet such a transformative force for good in our society. This might benefit the largest cable and telecom firms in the land, but it does nothing for the rest of us.”