Images by Katherine Tamola
With John Oliver’s viral rant about net neutrality having come and gone, activists are working tirelessly to keep the issue front-and-center as President Barack Obama is suddenly, seemingly impressionable, and as conservatives muddy the water in service to their telecom overlords. And so the email from the protest organizers read …
President Obama has urged the FCC to save Net Neutrality. Members of Congress have spoken out. Millions of you have weighed in.
But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is still fumbling around in the dark. That’s why we’re shining a light … to make it clear that we want real open Internet protections.
The plan: We’ll gather … and hold up our phones, candles and flashlights to enlighten the FCC … We’ll join forces with everyone at the Break the Chains Dance Party for a little Net Neutrality photo op.
Are you in?
I was in.
“Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to get Barack Obama to care about anything.”
Evan Greer, a 29-year-old fair internet advocate and musician, prompted the crowd of roughly 40 head who showed last week at Make Shift Boston, a work space on Columbus Ave where she helped organized the rally.
“Net neutrality is all about is about preserving the internet … instead of allowing it to become bogged down, more like mainstream cable TV, where a few select corporations basically have the power to decide what we see and do online,” Greer told the Dig in an interview.
According to Greer and countless activists who work and protest in this realm, the Federal Communications Commission, headed by former cable company lobbyists, is treading in dangerous waters by engaging in any talk of loosening regulations on service providers.
This is not a new crusade for Greer, who has organized around net neutrality for a year, and around other issues all the way back to high school. She sees it as a critical political interest, but also noted the relevance to her career as a musician.
“I never would have been able to make a living as a musician without the internet,” she said. “As me, a counter-cultural musician, as someone who sings about politics, who’s transgender, who’s coming at this outside of the mainstream, the internet gives me a huge amplifier for my music that I could never get through a mainstream record label, or just by trying to get radio play.”
Greer’s idea: get these people to tell more people, who will in turn tell more people about net neutrality and all connected problems. (Ed note: In the time since this event, the FCC has announced that it delaying a vote on net neutrality, thus further enraging activists who claim the stalling is a play that could benefit corporate interests). She further urged those in attendance to use the ready-made digital placard at protestsign.org, and to join people at coming rallies IRL as well.
The evidence that something must be done soon, it seems, is all around us.
“You can start to see where some of the commercial cable providers, like the Comcasts and Verizons, are basically using their customers as leverage to extort money from other content delivery services,” said Steve Revilak, the treasurer for the Massachusetts Pirate Party, who was also on hand.
“I don’t want my internet service provider to mediate what I do online,” Revilak added. “I’d like to keep them out of my packets.”