BREAKING: FCC Chair Tom Wheeler comes out to meet with us at Occupy the FCC encampment for net neutrality

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2014

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Email: press@fightforthefuture.org
Margaret Flowers - 410-591-0892
Kevin Zeese: 301-996-6582
Kevin Huang: 510-648-5048
Evan Greer: 978-852-6457

FCC Chair Tom Wheeler comes out of FCC building to meet with net neutrality protesters who have been camped out on his doorstep since May 7th. Events planned tomorrow in more than 20 cities.

Activists from Popular Resistance and Fight for the Future tell the Chairman that the only path toward lasting net neutrality is reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier to protect it in the public interest

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WASHINGTON, DC — This morning at 10:00am net neutrality protesters saw further evidence of the impact of grassroots organizing as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler came out to meet with the Occupy the FCC encampment which has surrounded the FCC headquarters in Washington, DC with tents, protest signs, and banners since May 7th.

He was followed later by Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. This means a majority of the five commissioners have visited the encampment to talk with protesters.  On Friday, Ajit Pai meet with the protesters.

Activists from Occupy the FCC say they are glad that the FCC has been responding to public pressure, but won’t be satisfied until the agency takes meaningful action. The encampment will continue until after the FCC proposal is announced tomorrow. A variety of organizations have called for simultaneous gatherings at FCC buildings in more than 20 U.S. cities tomorrow, May 15th at 12:00noon.  After tomorrow, the groups pledge to escalate their organizing to mobilize people to shape the future of the Internet as an open, democratic tool with equal access to all — real net neutrality.

Below are quotes from organizers of Occupy the FCC in response to Tom Wheeler’s remarks at the camp. Please contact us if you’d like to schedule an interview with one of the activists who spoke with the Chairman.

“It is great that Wheeler came to the encampment to talk with us but he is still in favor of a solution that will not work,” said Kevin Zeese of PopularResistance.org, who has been camped out at the FCC since May 7th. “Section 706 does not give the FCC the authority it needs to ensure real Net Neutrality protections. This approach has lost in court twice. The only reason he will not take the approach necessary, reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier, is because the mega-telecom companies — whom he used to work for — do not want it.”

“We want the Chairman to understand that we won’t settle for anything less than making the last mile of the Internet net neutral,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of FIght for the Future. “Chairman Wheeler, saying that you promise to keep pre-peer  ‘open,’ meaning according to your rules that there will be fast and slow lanes, is obviously not enough. The only way to ensure that we have a net neutral Internet is to reclassify under Title II.”

“Wheeler came to the encampment because public pressure is mounting,” added Margaret Flowers also of PopularResistance.org, “We have gotten strong media coverage, not only in the online community, but in Time Magazine, the Washington Post and other corporate media outlets. He has backtracked from his initial proposal — that would have ended net neutrality and set up a tiered Internet based on fees — because of public pressure. He has received more than a million emails favoring net neutrality as well as thousands of phone calls while our encampment has been growing on his doorstep. It is going to take escalating public pressure to respond to the telecom giants who will be fighting the public interest every step of the way.”

Kevin Huang of Fight for the Future, who was also at the encampment when Wheeler visited, said, “Wheeler is speeding towards the quickest solution by proposing rules instead of structural change through reclassification. His plan is a bandaid that can easily be peeled off  by the courts or the next chair. The people want the Internet to be returned to its original status as a common carrier so that the FCC has real power to represent the public’s interest against telecom giants and the public has a mechanism for accountability.”

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“Wheeler was forced to come to the camp at Occupy the FCC because it is growing and the majority of the public, FCC employees, tech companies and media are united in their support for returning the Internet to common carrier status,” Margaret Flowers concluded. “Now what we need is action, not photo ops. Let’s open this debate up to the people in a public forum. We say “no” to backroom deals with industry giants.”

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