Net neutrality protests have begun, here's how you can participate

Flickr via Credo Action. Click for original.

(Image: © Flickr via Credo Action)

Don't be surprised if you see a crowd standing outside your local Verizon store. They're not standing in line for a new iPhone, they're protesting the FCC's proposed plan to roll back existing net neutrality rules.

Verizon is a target in part because it's a major advocate of dismantling net neutrality regulation. It's also a matter of convenience, as there are Verizon stores spread all across the US, though that's not the motivating factor here.

"The new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is a former top lawyer for Verizon, and the company has been spending millions on lobbying and lawsuits to kill net neutrality so they can gouge us all for more money. By protesting at Verizon stores, we’re shining light on the corruption and demanding that our lawmakers do something about it," states a blurb on VerizonProtests.com.

Pai served as general counsel for Verizon from 2001 to 2003. He's now spearheading the effort to remove net neutrality rules that were put in place by the previous administration and former FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, who sought to ensure a level playing field on the web. Current net neutrality rules prohibit ISPs blocking and throttling internet traffic based on content and other criteria that could be ultimately hurt competitors and consumers alike.

Pai and those who support dismantling the rules argue that government regulation as currently implemented will stifle innovation and take away incentives for wireless carriers and ISPs to invest in network upgrades. However, net neutrality rules did not stop Verizon from committing to investing at least $1.05 billion in upgrading its nationwide broadband network.

The protests are a last ditch effort to sway the FCC from going through with its proposal. There was already a public commenting period on the proposal in which the FCC was flooded with opinions, but Pai has shown no indication that he intends to reverse course when the FCC votes on its plan on December 14.

While the protests are largely focused on Verizon stores, they're also taking place at other venues. For example, there will be a protest at the annual FCC Chairman's Dinner today in Washington, DC, and another one outside the FCC building on December 13. Hit either link for more information on how to participate.

If you want to join a protest at a Verizon store, go here and use the interactive map to find one near you.

In addition to participating in a protest, you can call members of Congress to share your thoughts, using this online tool to find the appropriate contact. You can also write Congress using this tool, or by going through the EFF.