WASHINGTON — On Thursday, several activists “rickrolled” the Federal Communications Commission’s open meeting to protest Chairman Ajit Pai’s plans to undermine Net Neutrality. Singing and dancing along to a recording of the 1987 Rick Astley song "Never Gonna Give You Up," the activists disrupted the agency’s monthly meeting and were escorted from FCC headquarters.
“We’re never gonna give up fighting for our online rights,” said Free Press Field Director Mary Alice Crim. “Today’s protest was a reminder to Chairman Pai and his boss Donald Trump that people everywhere love the internet. We will do anything and everything to oppose his efforts to destroy the open internet. More than 4 million took a stand for Net Neutrality in 2015, and we aren’t going to take this sitting down today.”
Earlier this month, Chairman Pai met with phone- and cable-industry lobbyists to unveil a plan to to repeal the FCC’s Open Internet Order and replace it with voluntary agreements by internet service providers to maintain a yet-to-be-determined set of conditions. The action would effectively put control over online choice in the hands of companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, which have a long history of abusing the online rights of internet users.
In 2015, millions of internet users pushed the FCC to defend Net Neutrality on the strongest legal grounds. The FCC responded by reclassifying broadband internet access, allowing the agency to use its Title II authority to prevent internet service providers from blocking, censoring, throttling or degrading online content, services and applications.
“Net Neutrality lets marginalized voices be heard online and lets innovators build new platforms to better protect our privacy and freedom,” said Zak Rogoff who joined the protested on behalf of the Free Software Foundation, a nonprofit that defends users’ rights to control their computers and phones. “With an administration and FCC that won’t protect our rights, we need Net Neutrality more than ever.”
In the two years since the rules were passed, investment by Title II broadband providers has increased by more than 5 percent compared to the two years prior to the ruling. None of the harms imagined by the phone and cable lobby, which protested the ruling, has come to pass.
Photographs and video from the protest are available upon request.