Protesters Gather At Google Headquarters; 600 Google Employees Sign Petition Vs. Google-Verizon Pact, Organizers Say
|Google headquarters in Mountain View|
Today at noon, roughly 100 people assembled at the entrance of Google's headquarters in Mountain View. According to Yolanda Hippensteele, who was involved in coordinating the rally on behalf of the Save the Internet coalition, protesters hailed from all over the Bay Area, including a busload of 25 from San Francisco.
"What do we want? Net neutrality! When do we want it? Now!," the crowd chanted, as they held homemade signs with slogans like "Google let me down" and "Don't be evil" -- Google's much-repeated, so-called mantra.
Free Press -- an advocacy organization who manages the Save the Internet coalition -- is concerned that Google's deal with Verizon to secure special internet privileges on its broadband, if passed by Congress and the FCC, will lead to other internet providers brokering deals with major companies.
"Internet providers can't wait," says the group's managing director, Craig Aaron. "First Verizon and Google strike a deal, then AT&T and Microsoft have a deal ... here comes Comcast who cuts a deal with Yahoo. The problem is that in the long run, that little guy never gets the chance to compete."
This deal -- and potential future ones like it -- will put smaller online businesses and websites at a disadvantage because it gives wealthy companies such as Google the opportunity to pay to have their websites operate more quickly than others, opponents complain.
Aaron believes this will impact the choices Internet surfers make online. Because it will be less frustrating to access higher-speed websites, consumers will be less inclined to go to independent sites such as blogs and startups, or companies that haven't struck a deal with the internet provider.
"There will be no incentive for innovation, and no opportunity for someone with an innovative idea to show that they've found a better way to do video than YouTube," he says.Advocacy groups including MoveOn.org, CREDO Action, Color of Change, Free Press, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have been involved in organizing the protest -- which just got rolling about 24 hours ago. In the past week 300,000 signatures have been collected for a petition chastising the proposed Google-Verizon pact.
Of the masses who have signed the Free Press' online petition, 600 of them are Google employees, says Hippensteele.
She notes that although Google representatives did not come out to speak to the protesters, company employees gathered on the sidewalks and looked through their windows to observe the cheering crowd.
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