One Giant Jumbotron, Millions of Voices: Today the Internet comes together to defend Net Neutrality
February 25, 2015 – When staff at the FCC look out the window today, they’ll see the Internet looking right back at them. In advance of tomorrow’s crucial FCC Net Neutrality decision, OpenMedia and a huge Internet freedom coalition are parking a giant Jumbotron opposite the agency’s headquarters in Washington D.C. The Jumbotron will be streaming images, messages, videos, and memes submitted by tens of thousands of Internet users via an online tool at StopTheSlowdown.net.
The FCC is poised to decide whether to allow telecom companies to create slow lanes on the Internet. The Jumbotron will be part of a range of activity outside the FCC building, as Internet freedom advocates gather from all over the U.S. and the globe. Over five million people, including President Obama, have called on the FCC to defend real Net Neutrality. Comments made by FCC chair Tom Wheeler earlier this month prompted cautious optimism from open Internet advocates.
“The next 36 hours will decide the future of the Internet for years to come,” said Josh Tabish, OpenMedia’s Campaigns Manager. “Right now, Big Telecom’s lobbyists are swarming Washington to insert dangerous loopholes to make our Internet slower and more expensive. That’s why we’re literally bringing the voices of tens of thousands of people to the FCC to make sure they follow through on their promise to deliver the strongest rules possible.”
Here’s what members of the StopTheSlowDown.net Coalition have to say:
Becky Bond, Political Director and Vice President at CREDO Mobile, said: "This is a fight between the overwhelming majority of Americans who want a free and open Internet and a handful of telecom giants. Big Telecom may be able to buy lobbyists and a few politicians, but no amount of money can buy off the millions of grassroots activists urging the FCC to protect Net Neutrality," adding, "that's why Team Internet is going to win."
Renata Avila, Global Campaigns Manager for The Web We Want Initiative, World Wide Web Foundation, said: “The Web We Want is the one with neutral networks that don’t discriminate against content or users and its impact is borderless and goes beyond the economic aspects of it. Let’s encourage representatives to courageously embrace net neutrality, protecting the future of culture, development, democracy and freedom.”
Cheryl Leanza, Policy Advisor, United Church of Christ, said: “Faithful Internet is excited to contribute the compelling videos explaining why communities of faith need an Open Internet. From many walks of life, many beliefs, we all rely on the Internet to communicate with one another and advocate for social justice. These videos demonstrate this issue matters to all of us.”
Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance said: "People mobilizing and demanding an Internet for the 21st Century remain free and open to all without discrimination and equal access has won the day. The corporate powers that provide the Internet for profit and not as a public service will fight this decision, but we can defeat them and show people power is greater than corporate power. This will be a decision to build on: to further democratize the Internet and to advance progressive values on a wide range of issue. Victory comes from unified action.”
Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director, Media Alliance said: “The jumbotron keeps the voices of Internet users front and center in Washington DC, where the people most impacted by government decisions are often the only ones found nowhere at the table".
Lauren Bird of Harry Potter Alliance, said: "Tens of thousands of independent content creators around the world have built successful careers using online media. Without net neutrality, they would have lacked access, as individuals, to the tools required to create those careers and innovate on those platforms. A free and open internet is crucial to the future of small business, entrepreneurship, and creative and technical innovation in America."
Martha Allen, Director, Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press, said: “Everyone must be able to communicate our information to have a democracy. Since communications is in the hands of just a few gigantic conglomerates, the Internet is central to communication freedom for all of the rest of us. Our lives and future depend upon an open Internet.”
Candace Clement, Internet Campaign Director, Free Press, said: “There was not one single moment, person or tactic that brought us to this victory. If the FCC votes to protect Net Neutrality using Title II, it will be because millions of people, companies and organizations worked together to defend the online rights of everyone. The voices on display here are just a fraction of those that have spoken out in support of the open Internet. They are a powerful reminder of exactly whose interests the FCC is supposed to protect.”
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, said "The FCC now has an historic opportunity to protect the platform that is fueling a new civil rights movement. Our ability to organize, be heard, counted, and visible in our democracy depends on the open Internet. The FCC should ignore desperate attempts to undermine its work, and protect the Internet as a platform for everyone."
Gudjon Idir, Executive Director of International Modern Media Institute, said: “Net neutrality is fundamental to the freedom of information and freedom of expression. We must ensure the freedom and neutrality of the net to safeguard our rights, online and offline.”
Elvis-Wura Towolawi, Digital Media Engagement Manager at Lawyers Alert in Nigeria, said: “The Internet was born open and free. We at Lawyers Alert will not accept a discriminatory and partitioned net. Let's keep it free!“
The FCC will announce their historic decision tomorrow. Earlier this month FCC chair Tom Wheeler promised strong rules to safeguard net neutrality, and Internet activists will be watching closely to ensure he doesn’t weaken the rules with dangerous loopholes. Giant telecom conglomerates are threatening to sue the FCC if the rules don’t include new slow lane loopholes. The Jumbotron is part of the broader #InternetCountdown effort that has brought together millions of Internet users from across the U.S. and the globe.
This initiative is hosted by OpenMedia, CREDO Action, Daily Kos, Roots Action, The Nation, and Tumblr, with support from: Access Now, reddit, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Fark, Baaroo, the Center for Media Justice, Consumer NZ, Derechos Digitales, Faithful Internet, Future of Music Coalition, Greenpeace, MAG-Net, Media Alliance, Occupa PL, People Demanding Action, Popular Resistance, Sum of Us, Women Action and the Media, Women’s Media Center, CanInvest, BoingBoing, Public Knowledge, 18 Million Rising, Cheezburger, Louder, Eyedro, GenWhy Media, Indian Voices, the Web We Want Foundation, and the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press.
People can submit messages, images, and memes for live streaming through our Jumbotron at StopTheSlowdown.net.
OpenMedia.org is an award-winning community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy by engaging hundreds of thousands of people in protecting our online rights.
About OpenMedia’s Internet slow lane campaign
OpenMedia’s campaign came against the backdrop of a crucial U.S. FCC hearing which could decide the future of net neutrality. Large telecom conglomerates are pushing the FCC to do away with net neutrality, a move that would open the door to an Internet slow lane and have major implications for Internet users everywhere.
To push back, OpenMedia joined with over 60 organizations from over 25 nations to launch Big Telecom -v- The World, a week of action aimed at sounding a loud global call in defense of net neutrality. Over 5 million people from around the world have spoken out as part of this and wider efforts aimed at encouraging the FCC not to allow Internet slow lanes.
OpenMedia’s campaign manager Josh Tabish also travelled to Washington D.C. to meet with senior White House advisers, as part of a delegation of civil society organizations and tech companies. Shortly afterward, President Obama issued a strong call to the FCC to create the “strongest possible” net neutrality rules.
The final FCC decision will be announced on Thursday February 26.