The Federal Communications Commission is set to vote next week on a plan that could mean the end of a free and open internet. To voice their opposition, activists are organizing nationwide protests this Thursday, and here’s everything you need to know to get involved.
The FCC plan calls for an effective end to net neutrality, the longstanding principle that internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon are not allowed to offer preferential treatment, access, or internet speeds for particular sites. While net neutrality has faced serious threats before, it’s only now with Trump appointee Ajit Pai in charge of the FCC that it appears net neutrality really could be on the chopping block. Thursday’s protests are a last-ditch effort to sway Washington decision makers.
What’s Going On?
Net neutrality supporters are planning a slew of protests across the nation this Thursday to voice their collective opposition against a Republican and FCC move to repeal key net neutrality legislation.
The protests will primarily take place outside of Verizon Stores. You can find the time and the location for the protests nearest to you by typing your ZIP code in Battle for the Net’s page .
These picketing efforts are happening outside of Verizon stores because FCC Chairman Ajit Pai served as a top lawyer at the company for two years. Protesters believe that he still has the company’s interests at heart rather than that of the general public.
“By protesting at Verizon stores, we’re shining light on the corruption and demanding that our lawmakers do something about it,” said the group organizing the protests on their website. “Only Congress has the power to stop Verizon’s puppet FCC, so at the protests we’ll be calling and tweeting at legislators, and in some cities we’ll be protesting right in front of their offices.”
Attending A Protest? Here’s How To Prepare.
Like any other protest, it’s paramount that you know the extent of your rights. All of these protests are planned in specific public locations, and wandering into private property — like, say, inside a Verizon Store — can get you into trouble with the authorities. In that case, the First Amendment doesn’t offer any protection. Find out exactly where the protest you’re planning to attend is being held and stay in that area.
While these demonstrations will likely remain peaceful, there’s always the possibility that a group of people attending get too rowdy or even destructive, or that the police respond with disproportionate force or even violence to a peaceful protest.
If you want to exercise an abundance of caution, layer up to cover your skin just in case things like bottles or rocks get thrown and have something like a scarf or a hood to cover your face in the event of tear gas. Again, it’s not likely that any of this will happen, but being prepared for the worst and the having everything go smoothly is much better than being caught in a bad spot unprepared.
No need to bring a lot of stuff, just bring the essentials. Stuff like first-aid kits, external phone batteries, and things you can’t do without like inhalers or epipens are good to have. Bringing anything valuable into a large group of people is probably not a good idea. Plus you’re going to be standing for a few hours, you don’t want to be hauling around a ton of stuff.
Above all else, keep vigilant and know when to leave if things take a turn for the worse.
Can’t Attend A Protest Today?
Don’t sweat it. The vote to repeal these net neutrality laws will take place on December 14. There are other protests planned a few days before the vote will take place, again at the Battle for the Net site.
If you just can’t make it out in general, there’s still time to contact Congress and voice your opinion. You don’t need to be attend a protest to make your voice heard.