News


Protesters gather at Google over Verizon deal

Net neutrality at stake, opponents say

This is an expanded version of a previously posted story.

Picket signs and chants were seen and heard Friday at Google's Mountain View headquarters, where demonstrators opposed a deal between Google and Verizon perceived as an assault on "net neutrality" and free speech online.

With 24-hours notice posted on various websites, including moveon.org, about 100 people gathered at noon in Charleston Park, which edges up to the Internet giant's lunch table-lined courtyard. Signs read "no payola for the Internet" and "FCC, do your job." Organizers delivered a petition with 300,000 signatures to Google after some folk songs by the Raging Grannies, speeches and chants about Internet neutrality, including "together we stand, together we fight, we demand our Internet rights!"

James Rucker, a software programmer and co-founder of colorofchange.org, explained why protesters gathered via loudspeaker.

"The FCC so far has not been successful in preserving a free and open Internet," Rucker said. And while the Google-Verizon deal says it will preserve net neutrality, "it actually does quite the opposite." he said. Websites and applications that want to ensure that they will have unfettered access online "will have to pay for that."

He pointed out the Google itself would not have flourished without Internet neutrality.

It has been widely reported that the proposal made this week by Google and Verizon would exempt wireless Internet service providers from FCC oversight. The proposal has been widely cast as a violation of Google's "don't be evil" policy.

At one point, protesters chanted "we want Eric!" in an attempt to have Google CEO Eric Schmidt address the crowd. Schmidt has denied that the company is reversing its commitment to Internet neutrality and has said the talks with Verizon are an effort by Google to give certain types of content bandwidth priority, such as digital voice or video, but not to discriminate within those types.

On their lunch breaks, Google employees watched from a distance. When asked if Google employees largely shared the protester's concerns, one of them said, "This debate is so complex, but this protest kind of trivializes it."

Stanley Jones was one of several protesters who had jumped on a "save the Internet" bus from San Francisco on short notice. A website developer for non-profit organizations, he said he wanted Google to be an ally in the fight for Internet neutrality, but instead Google's proposal feels like a betrayal. He likened Google's efforts to find a balance on Internet neutrality to trying to find a balance with slavery.

"A balanced policy is not what we need," he said. "We need net neutrality."

"I don't want to tell my kids that we used to have things like LOLcats until Google betrayed us,' he said, referring to the popular cat humor blog.

Comments

Posted by John, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:11 am

I like how Google said that this doesn't segment the Internet, but then goes on to say how it will segment out parts of the Internet, like "games" traffic, or "video" traffic. The "do no evil" slogan is a joke these days.

I mean, we're all happy with the way cell phone companies nickel and dime everyone with confusing and limiting packages... why wouldn't want this same type of model for the Internet as a whole? (ya, that was sarcasim)


Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:18 pm

I hope Google employees are participating in these protests, both internally and externally. They'll forever be remembered as the force that sold out the internet to corporate interests.


Posted by PeaceLove, a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Great protest; thank you to all the activists who turned out today. Net neutrality is the most important free speech principle on earth right now, since all other freedom springs from the truly free speech of the Internet. I am shocked and saddened to see Google sell out so thoroughly on the issue.

Did Google just jump the shark?


Posted by John A, a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Glad the rally went well. If MoveOn had given accurate directions, I would have been there.


Posted by tatateeta, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I think this is a really important issue. We don't have any way of getting the truth except through the internet. When you see those polls demonstrating that some huge percentage of people believe Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S, you realize that the media has been captured by corporate interests and ideologues. I live in a liberal area and I can't find a liberal radio station to listen to, but I can find 10 hate radio stations and 5 right wing religious stations. NPR is just nice polite republicans. KPFA is great, but I'd like to hear some progressive talk radio. I asked Comcast to take Fox out of my package and they refused, so I cancelled my cable (which by the way, I don't miss) It's crazy that we don't have any choice, anymore. I get all my info from the internet. I even read the NYT online.


Posted by dilchien, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Google's a corporation. Get over it.


Posted by Thom, a resident of Jackson Park
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm

@ tatateeta - are you serious? I don't see how you can actually believe any of that crap.

"We don't have any way of getting the truth except through the internet."

I feel for you. You probably didn't exist in the pre internet days from the way you hold the internet as all knowing.

"I live in a liberal area and I can't find a liberal radio station to listen to, but I can find 10 hate radio stations and 5 right wing religious stations."

Yes, you do live in the liberal armpit of California. Those "hate" stations are in reality "truth" stations. How's that stimulus package working out for you by the way?

"I asked Comcast to take Fox out of my package and they refused, so I cancelled my cable (which by the way, I don't miss) It's crazy that we don't have any choice, anymore. I get all my info from the internet. I even read the NYT online."

I find that MSNBC is nothing worth watching on my televison. Instead of raging, or crying about how unfair they are I just skip the channel. It is really easy. You want choices? And you support the current admin. I assume? Good luck with that.

Those crazy kids have that right provided to them by people fighting for rights. Just as you have the right to relocate to anywhere you want. Nothing is keeping you in this evil right wing area. And if you truly think the bay area is anything but liberal...you need to do your homework.


Posted by Ted, a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 16, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I was at the rally, pretty calm & tame. OP John got it fairly right. Google is fine with wireline net neutrality but doesn't want it for wireless. Well gee, I wonder where the future of communication is headed...
Thom - nothing keeping you here in this commie-pinko-liberal land either.
John A, shoulda used mapquest ;)


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