“Occupy the FCC” encampment gathers support from tech companies and advocacy groups as net neutrality protesters surround FCC headquarters with tents and banners
Unsatisfied with backpedaling and empty promises from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, activists are camped out day and night on the agency’s doorstep demanding the Internet be reclassified as a common carrier
WASHINGTON, DC — This morning, and every morning since last Wednesday, FCC employees were greeted on their way in to work by a dedicated group of net neutrality activists who are camped out on the agency’s doorstep with tents, signs, and a giant banner reading, “Don’t Break the Internet!” Many FCC employees have expressed their support to the demonstrators, who have distributed hundreds of flyers to people entering FCC headquarters.
TIME Magazine reports “The FCC’s eighth floor executive office has been thrown into chaos amid a mounting backlash that shut down its phone lines as a growing number of Open Internet advocates camp out in front of their office.”
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The encampment was sparked last week by activists from Fight for the Future and PopularResistance.org and is growing steadily, gaining support today from major tech companies including CREDO Mobile and reddit as well as advocacy groups Demand Progress, MoveOn.org, OpenMedia, and Free Press.
Organizers at Occupy the FCC promise escalation of their protests and have several events planned this week including a concert and open mic Tuesday night and an art-making party on Wednesday night. The week-long protest will culminate during a rally on May 15th organized by a diverse range of organizations. The protest comes after a month of intense online action during which millions of people emailed, called, or signed petitions to the FCC demanding that it protect net neutrality.
“We’re here at the FCC night and day because the future of the Internet is being decided in this building — and the open web is too important to our democracy for us to remain silent,” said Kevin Huang of Fight for the Future. “We won’t be fooled by Tom Wheeler’s empty promises. There is only one clear path forward for real net neutrality: the FCC must reclassify the Internet as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act. Anything less is just ‘net neutrality’ in air quotes.”
“Camping out here on FCC’s doorstep, it is so clear that the influence that corporate lobbyists have had over this building is starting to crumble,” said Margaret Flowers of PopularResistance.org., who has been camped out at the FCC since May 7th. “We have had many FCC employees stop by our camp to express their support, and more people and tents are showing up every day from all over the country. If Tom Wheeler sticks with his buddies at AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, he will soon find out that they are the only friends he has. If Wheeler is unable to put the public interest before his colleagues in industry, maybe it is time for Wheeler to resign.”
“The public outcry over Tom Wheeler’s proposal to allow for discrimination on the Internet has become impossible to ignore” said Becky Bond, Political Director of CREDO Mobile. “More and more, people depend on the Internet to meet their basic needs. The FCC needs to treat the web as what it is: a public utility that should be protected in the public interest.”