How Grassroots Net Neutrality Activists Beat Big Cable Against All Odds

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FCC chairman Tom Wheeler used to head the lobbying group which represents the big cable firms. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

SOURCE: The Guardian

For more than three decades Kevin Zeese has been a burly, vociferous presence on the front lines of protest movements. The 59-year-old Baltimore native has organised protests against the Iraq war, run for the Senate on the Green Party ticket, and campaigned for drug law reform since the 1970s. Now he’s fighting to save the idea of an open internet. Never has he seen the arguments over such a hot-topic issue shift so quickly in his direction.

Last May, Zeese was thrown out of an Federal Communications Commission (FCC) meeting, as the regulator looked set to pass new rules that among other things would have allowed cable companies to create and charge extra for “fast lanes” and end net neutrality – the principle that all traffic should be treated equally online.

This week, FCC commissioners will start discussing a new set of rules for regulating the web that could ban fast lanes. That ban would be part of a set of rules that, if passed, will regulate the internet in the similar way to utilities like water or electricity – a move net activists have been dreaming of for decades, believing it will allow the regulator to better protect net neutrality. The change in tone has been swift and dramatic and it even caught Zeese by surprise.

Cable companies have long challenged the FCC’s authority to regulate them. The latest attempt to rewrite the FCC’s rules came last January, after Verizon successfully challenged its authority to regulate the broadband industry. Rich, powerful and well connected, cable companies are used to getting what they want. A couple of years ago at a fundraiser at the home of David Cohen, Comcast’s chief lobbyist, President Barack Obama quipped: “I’ve been here so much, the only thing I haven’t done in this house is have seder dinner.”

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After years of research and a series of unpleasant experiences concerning the current child protection services system, Alec Cope decided to combat the cancerous corruption through information. Freelance writing articles as a form of protest and distributing them throughout his former high-school and local area, Alec struck special chords with whomever he was in contact with.

Alec has been involved in activism such as sit down protests as well as Idle No More gatherings. Being independent for the majority of his time, Alec became a member of the WeAreChange family to assist one of the organizations that inspired him to become active in the first place. With a larger platform and positive support Alec has committed the majority of his time to research, writing, and maintaining social media with the goal to continue expanding the awakening sweeping throughout all levels of society.

Growing up within a rural area in Northern Michigan as well as being a native American descendant, Alec is seeking to expose environmental abuse in his state as well as globally. A high-school dropout, Alec chases his passion for writing and empowering individuals while showing any isolated person that they too can overcome the odds with a community that will support them. Alec lives in the lower peninsula of Michigan near Kalamazoo.

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