Net neutrality supporters have been protesting FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s decision to get rid of Title II Net Neutrality regulations since he took office, but yesterday, organizers brought the protests into the real world on a national scale, storming Verizon stores and other locations. Verizon was chosen as the organization to center the real-world protests around due to Pai’s previous role as one of Verizon’s top lawyers. The public sentiment driving the protests is that corporate interests are being put before the will of the American people in this decision, with some protesters even going as far as to directly call out Pai as still catering to his old employer.
Twitter is one of the biggest online battlegrounds in the fight for net neutrality, and it’s there, under the hashtag #StopTheFCC that you’ll find all sorts of stories and photos from the protests, like the ones seen below, taken by Tim Karr. Most of the protests did take place at Verizon stores, but some ended up taking place in front of government offices. While Pai has made it quite clear that he cannot be swayed at this point, and most of the FCC seems to be on his side, the public is turning to Congress to use its regulatory power over the FCC to stop the vote to do away with net neutrality. Despite this, one protest wound up happening at the annual FCC chairman’s dinner. Protesters there were joined and cheered on by Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn.
Real-world protests happened on a massive scale, but with less than a week left until the FCC’s voting day on December 14, protesters aren’t done yet. An online protest called #BreakTheInternet is planned for December 12, and it involves calling on webmasters to literally do so. The objective is to creatively a portrayal of what life without net neutrality could be like, and use that to get readers to call their representatives in Congress and demand action. Those who don’t have a website or blog to participate with can get in on #BreakTheInternet by posting on social media using that hashtag, spreading the word, and urging peers to act.