Protesters spent time two days ago flying Grumpy Cat all around Comcast’s headquarters, following the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to classify the Internet as a public utility. According to Philadelphia Magazine, they didn’t fly Grumpy Cat herself, thankfully, but they flew a banner with her picture and some text boasting of net neutrality advocates’ triumph.
An advocacy group called Demand Progress tweeted the graphic used on the banner, which said:
“Here’s the banner advocates are flying around Comcast HQ in Philly right now: ‘Don’t Mess with the Internet'”
The plane, according to Philly Mag, actually flew below the top of the building, so they could be sure that as many people as possible at Comcast could see it. Why would they do that, though? What could we have to be afraid of from Comcast?
It seems that David Cohen, executive vice president and chief diversity officer at Comcast, blasted the FCC for their decision on net neutrality. He said that Comcast supports the FCC’s decision to put rules in place that ensure an open Internet, but wholly disagreed with their reclassification decision. In his words:
We are disappointed the Commission chose this route, which is certain to lead to years of litigation and regulatory uncertainty and may greatly harm investment and innovation, when the use of Section 706 alone would have provided a much more certain and legally sustainable path.
. . . We know that our business has grown and thrived because consumers want access to everything that the Internet makes possible, and we want to meet that demand. This is why we have no issue with the principles of transparency and the no blocking, no throttling, and no fast lanes rules incorporated in today’s FCC Order. But we remain deeply concerned that implementing those principles through Title II will do more harm to the vibrant Internet ecosystem than good.
. . . After today, the only ‘certainty’ in the Open Internet space is that we all face inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty challenging an Order that puts in place rules that most of us agree with. We believe that the best way to avoid this would be for Congress to act. We are confident this can be done in a bi-partisan manner with a consensus approach that accomplishes the common goals of stakeholders on all sides of the open Internet debate without the unnecessary focus on legal jurisdiction and the unnecessary regulatory overhang from 80 year-old language and provisions that were never intended to be applied to the Internet.
Had the FCC not voted in favor of preserving net neutrality, providers like Comcast could have been free to create slow lanes and fast lanes, and throttle download speeds for those who couldn’t pay big bucks. They could also have blocked whatever content they decided they didn’t want their customers seeing. CBS News says that David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, said:
Comcast and cable allies spent big for the right to degrade the very service they provide to their customers, and they tried to ignore the millions of public comments in support of Net Neutrality. But they can’t ignore the FCC’s vote yesterday — or a plane flying over their corporate headquarters today.
The Star-Tribune reports that, in addition to Demand Progress, Fight for the Future and Free Press supported the FCC’s decision. All three groups were behind this hilarious stunt.
Featured image courtesy of Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press, via Tumblr