Last Thursday (11/6) saw thousands of disaffected citizens take to the streets of major cities across the US in support of Net Neutrality.
Positioned outside the White House, as well as Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Las Vegas, those in attendance used their platform to speak out against the upcoming vote in Congress on December 11th that will decide whether or not the Internet, how it is consumed and how the average person can access it will be irreparably damaged. Plans for the reforms were only made public when they were leaked from the offices of the Federal Communications Commission. That’s democracy for you.
The protests conducted outside the White House received the highest attendance:
The rain-soaked streets of Philadelphia failed to deter 50 or so protestors from voicing their anger against a government that, certainly in this matter, has utterly failed to capture the mood of its people and repeatedly left them out in the cold. As well as the government, Philly’s freedom fighters railed against communications giant Comcast, for their perceived co-operation with the FCC’s plans.
— Media Mobilizing (@mediamobilizing) November 7, 2014
San Francisco got in on the act too:
— Stay Well Map (@StayWellMap) November 7, 2014
…but all of the passion and grit shown by those in Washington, Philly, San Fran and elsewhere was not matched in Chicago. BaDoink went to the Federal Plaza in the hopes of capturing a rowdy protest in full swing, but the empty streets and lack of anger was conspicuous.
In Chicago we found a lack of knowledge about Net Neutrality and the protests themselves. Ned, a worker with the Bank of America was aware of the issue but not the planned protests. Like many in the US, Ned feared any political activity would jeopardise his job: “”I would for sure join the protest but I would get fired if I did.”
Henry, a small business owner, is worried about the effects Net Neutrality will have on the online side of his business.
“I’m worried. It should be equality for all” he said. “Why should I be separated from other people and companies? What gives them the right? It would greatly affect my business. What if my customers can’t access me online? I can’t afford to pay any more than I already do.”
So while we must consider the implications of the FCC’s proposals in a wider sense, we also have to look at the negative effects it will wreak upon ordinary citizens, many struggling to get by as it is. Chicago’s lack of participation in Thursday’s protests was a huge disappointment and with the bill to face Congress in a little over a month, time is running out to inform, educate and mobilise.
As one of those leading the rally in DC said: “Obama risks becoming the President who destroyed the Internet.” With the political structure and flow of the USA in absolute chaos after recent midterms and Obama racing towards the end of his second and final term in office, his thoughts will more than likely be on the concept of his legacy. The ego of man, particularly a US President, may just save the day…this time. But it seems this issue won’t die down even if the Bill is defeated.
If you fear yet another political whitewash is about to occur, then make sure your voice is heard and that others have the knowledge. Visit Did Obama Break The Net to take the fight right to his immaculate, taxpayer-funded doorstep. Keep up with the struggle.