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Signs prepared by protesters ahead of Thursday's "Rally to Save the Internet." (Photo: Free Press/Facebook)

'Fight to Save the Internet' Takes to Streets as FCC Votes on Net Neutrality

While the grassroots is mobilizing, only 13 Democratic senators sign open letter in support of free and open internet

Nika Knight

Update:

As feared, the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday afternoon to begin the process of undoing open internet protections.

Earlier:

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepares to vote Thursday to begin the process of repealing net neutrality regulations, the grassroots resistance is rising up.

A "Rally to Save the Internet," organized by digital rights group Free Press and including many other advocacy, online, and tech groups, has hundreds of people demonstrating outside FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C., for an open internet.

Watch the rally here.

As Common Dreams reported, FCC head Ajit Pai announced his plan to roll back net neutrality rules last month, after he met with telecommunications executives—earning accusations that Pai is acting as a "puppet" for the industry.

Digital rights activists and major tech firms alike have been mobilizing against the plan, which would allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to charge wealthier users for "fast lanes," while other internet users suffer through slower service.

"A horrid idea at any time, this proposal is particularly destructive now that so much of our democratic discourse plays out via the internet," said former FCC commissioner Michael Copps in a statement. "The Trump Administration's anything goes approach to its corporate benefactors will wreak havoc on citizens seeking truth, facts, diversity, and privacy."

And while Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) spoke at the rally Thursday, there has been a notable lack of resistance from many Democratic members of Congress. Only 13 Democratic senators signed an open letter Wednesday urging the FCC to preserve its open internet rules.

"By proposing to take away the existing net neutrality protections, President Trump’s FCC is threatening to take away your ability to have free and open use of the internet. This proposal will have profound impacts on the way all of us watch movies, listen to music, do homework, talk to family, consult with a doctor, pay bills, and conduct business. Taking away these rules benefits no one except cable, telephone, and wireless broadband companies," the letter reads, according to Tech Crunch.

The letter's signatories include: Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Markey, Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

Follow along with Thursday's demonstration with the hashtag #NetNeutrality:


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