OP-ED: Net Neutrality and Break The Internet

On December 7th, protests were held nationwide in defense of net neutrality. Anger was directed towards Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer who now heads the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Symbolically, the protests in Palo Alto took place in front of Verizon storefronts. And, though the events were successful in raising awareness of the issue, there is still much left to do — which is why the #breaktheinternet campaign began in the following days.

At 4:30 PM, fellow Foothill student Zachary Chung and I arrived at the Palo Alto demonstration, one of the many in the Bay Area. Just ten minutes later, the sidewalks were packed with signs and banners. “Net neutrality, not Fascism!” “Save the internet!” and “Hands off my internet!” were some of the popular slogans. A couple signs tore into the leadership itself: “Don’t buy Pai’s Lies” and “Dear Paul Ryan, we will blame YOU.”

The huge crowd circled around a few big tech stores, all the protesters chanting together: “Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, we want net neutrality!” The general public was taken aback, but supportive — a couple waved from store windows as we passed.

The protests drew big crowds, but there’s a lot more work left to be done and only three days left to do it, as the FCC will is primed to vote to disband net neutrality on the 14th. That’s why, starting tomorrow, activists are banding together in a nationwide attempt to #breaktheinternet — and they’re urging everyone to participate. One way you can help the cause is by allowing the site access to your Twitter: on the 12th, pro net neutrality tweets will be sent out every ten minutes. You can change your profile picture. You can join the protest through Instagram, Facebook, and even Linkedin. There’s also source code available on the site, meaning if you have a website or blog, the source code crafts a pop-up. The block not only raises awareness about net neutrality, it also directly and efficiently allows anyone who sees it to contact their congressmen. All the resources are available here. You can also directly contact your members of Congress through a guided script by dialing (+1) 202-759-7593. With recent evidence of corruption and hacking in the FCC comment system in favor of dismantling the protection, every call matters.

If you weren’t able to physically join any protests yet, it’s not too late! The one on the virtual stage will be the largest protest yet, and it’s easy to join. Together we the public hold the power to stop Pai, and to stop the abolition of net neutrality.