Net neutrality Thursday PROTESTS: Time to learn your chant

Netizens unhappy at leaked FCC plan

Internet activists are planning a series of protests across the US on Thursday against a "hybrid" net neutrality plan that was leaked late last week.

Protesters will gather outside the White House and in 14 other cities at 6pm to protest the plan "to show President Obama and his FCC chairman that the public will accept nothing less than lasting net neutrality through Title II reclassification."

Mirroring protests in Hungary, where the government was forced to back down on a proposed broadband tax, those attending will be asked to hold their cell phones in the air and post pictures to social networks with the hashtags #RealNetNeutrality and #ReclassifyTheInternet.

Under the proposed plan, whose basic details were supplied to the New York Times in order to gauge public and industry opinion, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would distinguish between "wholesale" and "retail" broadband supply. In other words between backbone providers and ISPs, and ISPs and their customers.

The proposal looks appealing to FCC staff since it would likely give the telecoms industry what it wants – the ability to create a tiered service to consumers – while addressing the concerns of large content companies who fear being discriminated against unless they pay fees.

Unsurprisingly, consumer advocates are less excited about the plan with one of the groups behind tomorrow's protests, Free Press, calling it the "Frankenstein Plan" and arguing that it would provide "slow lanes" and allow broadband providers to control access to their subscribers.

Among the sites planned for protests are: Civic Centre Plaza in San Francisco; Union Square Park in New York; and Comcast's headquarters in Philadelphia. Most of the protests have their own Facebook pages.

At the time of writing a little over 100 people have said they will turn up in Washington and San Francisco. We may help boost numbers with an El Reg reporter or two. We've already been practicing our chants:

What do we want?

Universal reclassification of broadband as Title II networks while acknowledging that the legislation is a little outdated and large sections would have to be forebeared!

When do we want it?

As soon as you've ironed out the details but definitely before the middle of next year!

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