WASHINGTON — Hundreds of Net Neutrality advocates will protest outside Federal Communications Commission headquarters on Thursday before the agency votes on Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to undo Net Neutrality protections. The "Net Neutrality Wake-Up Call Rally" is hosted by Voices for Internet Freedom — a coalition of groups focused on the digital rights of communities of color, including the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, Free Press Action Fund, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and 18 Million Rising.
Pai and his two Republican colleagues are expected to adopt the chairman’s plan to overturn nearly all of the Net Neutrality safeguards put in place by the 2015 Open Internet Order. The loss of Net Neutrality would have a disproportionately severe impact on people of color who rely on an open internet to challenge systemic racism, seek out educational and economic opportunities, combat dehumanizing narratives and fight for justice.
The FCC is moving forward with these plans despite unprecedented and overwhelming public opposition, which has included tens of millions of public comments, hundreds of thousands of calls to Congress opposing the agency’s actions, and more than 700 protests in all 50 states.
WHAT: Voices for Internet Freedom is hosting the Net Neutrality Wake-Up Call Rally to sound the alarm about FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s threat to a free and open internet.
WHO: Confirmed presenters include:
Rep. Keith Ellison
Rep. Ro Khanna
Rep. Maxine Waters
Jamilah Lemieux — former EBONY magazine editor; cultural critic
Symone D. Sanders — CNN contributor; former press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign
Amanda Seales — actress on HBO’s Insecure; musician and activist
Representatives from Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press Action Fund, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and other groups will also be speaking.
WHEN: Thurs., Dec. 14, from 9–11 a.m.
WHERE: FCC Headquarters, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C.
“Former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai is hell-bent on delivering the internet to his telecom friends, while ignoring the massive public outcry on this issue,” said Collette Watson, digital communications manager for Free Press Action Fund. “Meanwhile, we have seen a renaissance of creative expression, online-to-offline resistance, and tech innovation from people of color who finally have a channel for overcoming systemic racism and bias. If Pai’s plan is allowed to go forward, it won’t just be a tragedy for this democracy. It will be a tragedy for our ongoing pursuit of human rights and a more humane society. With the rise of the Trump regime, it’s the worst possible time for such a major step backward.”
“Chairman Pai expects the public to be asleep to the fact that repealing Net Neutrality will only benefit greedy companies like Verizon,” said Steven Renderos, organizing director for the Center for Media Justice. “Millions of people have taken action to defend the internet, including small businesses, low-income families, and rural residents — all the people Chairman Pai claims will benefit from the loss of Net Neutrality. Today’s rally is a wake-up call to the FCC, members of Congress and the president that we will continue to fight for equal access to the internet where our voices are protected and heard.”
“We are here today to make one thing absolutely clear: Latinos and other people of color will not be silenced by this Trump FCC," said Carmen Scurato, vice president of policy and general counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “Net Neutrality has empowered our communities to organize online and provided us a platform to right social injustices—like this upcoming repeal. It is critical that we stand here to tell the FCC that it is on the wrong side of history and that a repeal of Net Neutrality is a direct attack on our 21st-century civil rights. The power and breadth of our collective voices is reflected in the success of this rally. We will be loud. We will be seen. We will be heard. We will persist.”
“Today’s FCC vote to destroy Net Neutrality is a threat to 21st-century civil rights,” said Brandi Collins, senior campaign director of media, democracy and economic justice for Color Of Change. “Our free and open internet was built on Net Neutrality, and Chairman Pai and the Trump administration’s decision to join hands with the telecom industry to dismantle Net Neutrality protections will forever alter the internet as we know it. Without Net Neutrality, countless Black activists and other social justice advocates will find their voices silenced because they can’t pay internet service providers for faster bandwidths. Today’s rally is a firm rebuke of the Trump administration and telecom industry’s collusion to eviscerate equal access to the internet and boost corporate profits at the expense of everyday internet users. This outcome is unacceptable and Chairman Pai should heed the calls of the millions of Americans who have demanded the preservation of Net Neutrality and cancel this disastrous vote.”
“Chairman Pai is charging headlong towards a huge mistake, and our communities demand he stop,” said Cayden Mak, executive director of 18 Million Rising. “Ending critical protection for consumers and small businesses isn’t giving us what we want and need — it is a heedless ideological commitment to enrich a few corporations at our expense. It’s past time for him to wake up and smell the coffee: the reality is, policies that fail to protect our rights to communicate, congregate, and create online fail the central premise of the internet — one that made the web what it is today.”
Voices for Internet Freedom is a coalition of organizations fighting to protect the digital rights of communities of color.