Net neutrality protestors on July 23, 2014 in Silicon Valley to tell President Obama: Don't kill the internet
Wednesday, July 23, marked a coordinated day of on-the-ground action on net neutrality, directed at President Obama as he attended high-dollar fundraisers in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. The message at both events, was clear—President Obama: Don’t kill the internet.
In Silicon Valley—the center of the tech industry—Obama attended a $10,000 a plate fundraiser, where he was greeted by more than 100 activists from netroots organizations including: Daily Kos, MoveOn, Free Press, CREDO, Color of Change, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Common Cause, SumOfUs, Media Alliance, Progressives United, ACLU, Code Pink and the Greenlining Institute.
Gathered outside the security lines around the venue, on a route heavily traveled by professionals in the tech industry, activists chanted, "Barack Obama, yes you can, Stop Tom Wheeler’s stupid plan!" This direct action drew attention to President Obama’s hands-off approach to protecting the open internet.
Later that afternoon, in Los Angeles, Obama was greeted by a similar scene of 150 activists outside the home of television producer Shonda Rhimes—creator of the hit show Scandal, and strong net neutrality supporter.
The take-away from these actions is this: Online activists are willing to go off-line to make their position clear. We need strong net neutrality rules which protect the internet as a public utility—free from corporate schemes to extract more money by creating fast and slow lanes on a tiered internet.
Because of the recent deadline for the first-round of public comments on Chairman Wheeler’s proposed rules to divide the internet, much of the attention has been focused on the FCC and their role in net neutrality.
But make no mistake, Obama has accountability on this issue because he appointed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to this position. Tom Wheeler is a former Telecom Lobbyist, Venture Capitalist, Entrepreneur, and was an Obama Fundraiser/Bundler in both 2008 and 2012.
The internet brought President Obama into power—his campaign harnessed the power of the internet to organize people, power and money. Now, that very same level playing field he used to win could cease to exist and become a place where only corporate backed voices will be able to fully access the power of the internet.
Obama has pledged to protect an open internet and support net neutrality, yet, he is sitting idle while his appointee moves forward with a plan that would destroy the internet as we know it. This proposal will create a tiered internet with an uneven playing field where corporations who can pay-to-play will drown out independent sites, like Daily Kos.
Here at Daily Kos we’ve already sent President Obama over 97,000 direct emails—not including those from our partners and allies—and he’s not listening. It’s time to ramp up the pressure, both online and off.
Please, take a moment of your time to send President Obama a message urging him intervene. Demand he keep his promise to protect an open internet with real net neutrality—by classifying the internet as a public utility.
P.S. Thanks to all of the Daily Kos community members who attended. Please share your stories and experiences with us.