A small group of protesters calling themselves “OccupyGoogle,” were arrested for trespassing on Google’s private property on the night of June 24. The pro-net neutrality activists had set up outside Google’s Mountain View HQ in California.
One protester taking a video of the incident claimed “about 50 police officers” had arrived on scene to arrest only about a dozen protesters. It was not clear how many officers were present from the video, but they did appear to outnumber the protesters. The cameraman was also arrested for trespassing.
Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all data on the Internet equally.
A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in January overturned FCC’s Open Internet Order, which ensured an “open and free” Internet that disallowed ISPs to discriminate data. This ruling gave ISPs like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T the power to slow down or block Internet traffic.
According to OccupyGoogle, without net neutrality, ISPs can “charge different rates based on content, or censoring webpages altogether, effectively ending free speech on the Internet.”
In May, the FCC voted to accept the “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” provision, which was meant to protect net neutrality, but it ended up leaving open the possibility of a multiple tiered Internet. It ensured a minimum level of service to prevent debilitating “slow lanes” for non-paid service, but it did not prohibit Internet “fast lanes,” that prioritizes service by how much the user pays.
A multi-speed Internet with fast lanes for company giants with the most money puts startup companies and innovators at a disadvantage.
If the Internet is no longer a level playing field, established companies would continue to thrive, and new ones would struggle to rise, which means the Internet would no longer be the platform for innovation and free speech it has been to date.
“Though Google and other major companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Microsoft have come out in support of preserving a free and open web, we believe much more can be done,” OccupyGoogle said on their website.
OccupyGoogle is not protesting against Google, but rather trying to persuade Google into taking action.
“Google, with its immense power, has a social responsibility to uphold the values of the Internet. We encourage Google to engage in a serious, honest dialogue on the issue of net neutrality and to stand with us in support of an Internet that is free from censorship, discrimination, and access fees.”
The public comment period ends July 15, so OccupyGoogle proposes a global day of action on July 10 to pressure FCC into protecting net neutrality. In 2012, Google’s petition raised anti-SOPA/PIPA awareness to prevent those bills from passing. OccupyGoogle suggests Google take similar action by blacking out their website for one day, and providing links to information about the current provision, petitions against it and FCC’s comment page.