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Protests Planned Nationwide as Vote on FCC’s ‘Catastrophic’ Plan to Kill Net Neutrality Looms


by Jake Johnson, from CommonDreams.org

Map showing locations for planned nation-wide protests. (Photo: Battle for the Net)

With the FCC set to vote on chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to kill neutrality in just over a week, a diverse coalition — ranging from consumer protection organizations to progressive lawmakers to Harvard professors — is denouncing the FCC’s proposals and scheduling nationwide protests to combat the agency’s move to let massive telecom companies “cash in on the internet” at the expense of consumers.

Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents.”Evan Greer, Fight for the Future

This is the free speech fight of our generation and internet users are pissed off and paying attention,” Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement. “Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents.”

Since Pai revealed his plan to gut net neutrality rules just before Thanksgiving, public outrage has continued to grow—even as corporate media outlets have neglected to cover it. Adding to the already record-breaking number of public comments submitted to the FCC over the last several months, more than 760,000 calls have flooded congressional phone lines since November 21, according to Battle for the Net.

Furthermore, protests have been planned throughout the nation over the coming days in opposition to the FCC’s “scorched-earth” attack on net neutrality: More than 600 demonstrations are scheduled to take place at Verizon stores and congressional offices across the country on Thursday, exactly one week ahead of the FCC’s planned vote.

“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?” said Mark Stanley, director of communications for Demand Progress, citing the overwhelming bipartisan support for net neutrality rules found in poll after poll.

Demonstrations against Pai’s plan have also taken place online. Last week, internet users took to Reddit’s front page to highlight their senator’s support—or lack of support—for net neutrality and detail how much money their representatives have taken from the telecom lobby.

Building on the outrage expressed by the American public, a group of 27 senators including Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivered a letter to Pai on Monday demanding that the FCC vote be delayed in the face of evidence that the public “record may be replete with fake or fraudulent comments, suggesting that your proposal is fundamentally flawed.”

The idea that the FTC will come to the rescue if net neutrality is destroyed at the FCC is a bad joke.” Craig Aaron, Free Press

A coalition of over 40 consumer protection groups also called on the FCC to postpone its vote on repealing net neutrality in a letter to Pai on Monday, citing a pending court case that could ultimately “leave consumers at the mercy of internet service providers.”

The case under consideration by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit involves whether or not the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the legal authority to regulate broadband providers.

Because one component of Pai’s plan is to give the FTC significant responsibility for shielding internet users from corporate throttling, any ruling that concludes the FTC does not have such legal authority would effectively leave telecom companies in charge of regulating themselves.

“If Chairman Pai and his fellow Republicans truly believe that the FTC will protect consumers, they have a responsibility to wait for the Ninth Circuit to decide if the FTC can actually do the job,” the groups’ letter concludes.

Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, told the International Business Times that even if the court rules in the FTC’s favor, “[t]he idea that the FTC will come to the rescue if net neutrality is destroyed at the FCC is a bad joke.”

“The heads of the Trump FCC and FTC are defanging their own agencies, watchdogs which had just started to show some bite during the last years of the Obama administration,” Aaron concluded. “And that’s exactly how AT&T wants them: toothless, tied up, and with their tails between their legs.”


14 Comments

  1. Big B says

    Woah amigos! Before we all jump on the bandwidth wagon – there is another side to this debate that is not getting an airing …the pros and cons need to be weighed before an informed choice is made. Being a technophobe myself, I did not really know what net neutrality even was: and the way the argument is portrayed here – I immediately jumped to the obvious conclusion…I mean, even the name means that it is a no brainer to keep, right? Or is that just what the corporatocracy (and Soros – to the tune of $196mn plus!!!) want us to think???

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-26/inconvenient-truth-behind-net-neutrality-movement

    First of all, these laws are only two years old – so they are not some tablets of stone that have enshrined free speech from the cyber-Creation of the internet. Second, some of the very worst corporations and content providers (Google; Yahoo; Microsoft; Twitter; Apple; Facebook; YouTube; Netflix) [and Soros!]: that are together slowly monopolising and killing freedom of speech and expression – are IN FAVOUR of net neutrality. It means they don’t have to pay for all the bandwidth they use. Those costs are absorbed by the ISPs. The ISPs (Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T) are tacitly in favour of net neutrality – despite the extra costs – because this allows them to monopolise the cable delivery system; slow down the development of alternative faster broadband, fibre optics, 5G, 6G; and prevent rival ISPs (who would also have to absorb the prohibitive costs of corporate ‘free bandwidth’ on start up) from taking their market share. So there is the case to be made that this is DEREGULATORY from the government micro-managed and monopoly supporting current laws; removing Obama regime corporate protectionism; saying “fuck you” to Soros; and good for us all??? I’ll let you decide …

    This is the most informative cat video you will find on the subject:

    Liked by 3 people

    • Many thanks Big B. Very interesting the way the whole subject has been manipulated to represent one thing when it is actually something totally different.
      Given that the FTC has done such a piss poor job of tackling the data theft issue and unrelenting attacks, with many successes, on censoring Free Speech by giants like Google and F/B, this net neutrality issue seems more like a red herring to deflect from what’s really been going on and how things actually work.
      From Wiki:Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.[1] For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.
      The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier, which was used to describe the role of telephone systems.[2][3][4][5]
      A widely cited example of a violation of net neutrality principles was the Internet service provider Comcast’s secret slowing (“throttling”) of uploads from peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) applications by using forged packets.[6] Comcast did not stop blocking these protocols, like BitTorrent, until the FCC ordered them to stop.[7] In another minor example, The Madison River Communications company was fined US$15,000 by the FCC, in 2004, for restricting their customers’ access to Vonage, which was rivaling their own services.[8] AT&T was also caught limiting access to FaceTime, so only those users who paid for AT&T’s new shared data plans could access the application.[9] In July 2017, Verizon Wireless was accused of throttling after users noticed that videos played on Netflix and Youtube were slower than usual, though Verizon commented that it was conducting “network testing” and that net neutrality rules permit “reasonable network management practices”.[10]
      Research suggests that a combination of policy instruments will help realize the range of valued political and economic objectives central to the network neutrality debate.[11] Combined with strong public opinion, this has led some governments to regulate broadband Internet services as a public utility, similar to the way electricity, gas, and the water supply are regulated, along with limiting providers and regulating the options those providers can offer.[12]…..
      the best way to explain network neutrality is that a public information network will end up being most useful if all content, websites, and platforms (e.g., mobile devices, video game consoles, etc.) are treated equally.[14
      …..Applicable concepts include: net neutrality, open standards, transparency, lack of Internet censorship, and low barriers to entry. The concept of the open Internet is sometimes expressed as an expectation of decentralized technological power, and is seen by some observers as closely related to open-source software, a type of software program whose maker allows users access to the code that runs the program, so that users can improve the software or fix bugs.[17]
      Proponents of net neutrality see this as an important component of an “open Internet”, wherein policies such as equal treatment of data and open web standards allow those using the Internet to easily communicate, and conduct business and activities without interference from a third party…..

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, to BigB & mohandeer, for pointing out that Net Neutrality is not the same thing as Freedom from Censorship. The former seems to concern throttling of the physical Medium while the latter means suppression of the intellectual content of th. Message. At last I realize th’t the Medium is not the Message.

        Liked by 1 person

        • PS re censorship, Syrian Girl says her posts have been deleted from the usual social servers. Presumably the owners of Facebook and Youtube have are free to censor opinions (CIF anyone?). The girl plans to avoid censorship by setting up her own (private?) server to get her Message onto the (uncensored?) public Medium, which I suppose means www the World Wide Web.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Big B says

        Mohandeer; Vexarb: thanks – it was James Corbett that alerted me to the fact that there might be another side to this …but the Truth Kitty vid was much more fun! Call me contrary, but anything Soros ploughs a couple hundred mill into – I feel obliged to contend!

        Liked by 1 person

          • Big B says

            Excellent. There are pros and cons to this: and the simple “free speech is dead” talking point is a vast oversimplification. To be fair, most of the really technical stuff goes straight over my head. To clarify about the Corbett report: the 2015 article is still valid, but it predates these laws. The report I saw was James’ recent interview with Jeffrey A Tucker – a somewhat eccentric conservative, shall we say? I’m not normally a free market kinda guy – but I can see where he is coming from. The fact that Soros is propagandising this so hard sways it for me, not the involved tech argument.

            PS. Does the name “net neutrality” qualify as a psyop???

            Liked by 1 person

  2. This is very positive news. Judging by the privileged demography of the protest organizers, it seems the American bourgeoisie see this as a threat to their own interests. Alas, what’s needed is a nationwide Battle of Seattle to apply the full pressure to reverse this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Harry Stotle says

    I’m sorry, am I missing something here, do US citizens honestly believe politicians will ever put the needs of the electorate before the lobbyists who own them – because if they do, they may need reminding exactly how a kleptocracy works.

    Liked by 2 people

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