Forty-plus protesters lined the sidewalks Dec. 7 outside of the Verizon Wireless store on Coburg Road. The group was opposing the upcoming Federal Communications Commission decision that would repeal the current rules of net neutrality, which prohibit internet providers from speeding up or slowing down access to content.
Protesters yelled “Whose net? Our net!” as cars drove past honking in support of signs that read “FCC Don’t Destroy the Internet” and “Protect Network Neutrality.”
James Barber, president of Our Revolution Lane County, organized the protest. Barber, who is also running for a Lane County Commissioner position, said, “Internet access should be a public utility. We don’t want to see it throttled back. We don’t want to see the information controlled by corporations where they can decide which webpages get to be in the fast lane, which businesses get to be in the fast lane, which businesses get to succeed and get to fail.”
The current FCC website, controlled by the Trump administration, spins the repeal of the equal access rules as “heavy-handed Internet regulation.” Furthermore, the administration attempts to justify its upcoming decision in the “Restoring Internet Freedom” under the website’s FCC Initiatives section which states, “Two years ago, the FCC abruptly changed course. On a party-line vote, the FCC applied 1930s-era utility-style regulation (“Title II”) to the Internet.”
Avery Temple said she attended the Coburg Road protest because she cares about net neutrality for everyone. “It’s like a basic human right and everyone should have access to it,” Temple says. “You shouldn’t have to pay for it.”
Mark Scott Levine, a web developer, also attended.
“If we think from systems thinking, it’s so important that we protect the internet because it’s the network effects that enable us all to participate in society,” Levine says.
A security guard was posted outside of Verizon. A Verizon employee said he suspected the guard was there because of what happened when Trump was elected in Portland — comparing the few protesters to the Women’s March.
A Verizon manager who did not give their name offered no comment when questioned about the security guard or the protest.