On Tuesday, June 24th, a group of activists set up tents and banners in front of Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA, announcing their protest online at http://OccupyGoogle.org and tweeting from @OccupyGoogl
Late last night, 10 activists, including a journalist who was livestreaming the event, were arrested for trespassing. We at Fight for the Future congratulate these people who are speaking out at this important time. It gives us hope for the future of the web to see young Internet freedom activists so passionate about this issue – and we hope that Google will sit down and talk with them and listen to what they have to say, rather than resort to involving law enforcement.
If you agree, feel free to call the Google press office and leave a message here: 1-650-930-3555.
We suggest you be polite, and ask them to meet with the Occupy Google demonstrators and listen to their demands, and not unnecessarily involve the authorities allowing for more arrests.
Here’s the background:
We didn’t know about this protest ahead of time, but we smiled when we heard the news. We love the transformative power of the free and open Internet and we’ve dedicated the past several years of our lives to building movement to protect it. We think it’s awesome to see that movement growing, and to see passionate people taking action to defend the Internet they love, and help build the Internet they want to see.
The protester’s demands were pretty simple, really: they were asking Google to engage in a conversation about what Google should be doing to fight for Net Neutrality. The activists felt like Google could be doing a lot more, and started the camp-out to apply pressure.
The context here is that Google has expressed support for Net Neutrality in letters some lobbying, but haven’t yet thrown down on the issue the way they could.
It’s an interesting tactic. Here’s how Occupy Google explains their reasoning:
Though Google and other major companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Microsoft have come out in support of preserving a free and open web, we believe much more can be done.
Though many of us have concerns about the larger implications of Google’s effect on the world, as far as surveillance and ties to military technology, we are not here to protest Google.
Google, with its immense power, has a social responsibility to uphold the values of the internet. We encourage Google to engage in a serious, honest dialogue on the issue of net neutrality and to stand with us in support of an internet that is free from censorship, discrimination, and access fees.
They went on to explain that they wanted Google to engage in a dialogue with them about how the company could do more to help win net neutrality at this critical moment that will have lasting ramifications for what the Internet of the future will be. They proposed some actions, including Google blacking out their site and pointing to a petition during an online action July 10th. But they also left it open ended, offering that Google could
Create their own creative way to connect their users to this issue and how to fight back.
We are committed to occupying the Google Headquarters until the company gets involved in honest dialogue on net neutrality, and until real action is taken to maintain a free and open internet.
So when it comes down to it, all these folks were asking for was to chat. They wanted someone from Google to come out and talk with them about what the company was doing, what it was going to do, and would it do more to defend something they really held dear: the uncensored web.
Google is a company that professes to care deeply about transparency, openness, and the future of the open Internet. The passionate people who set up tents on their lawn were expressing similar goals. It sounds to us like Google leadership probably would have had a great time if they’d brought some lemonade and sandwiches down to the camp and had a chat with these folks, rather than allowing them to be forcibly arrested en masse and charged with trespassing.
What harm would it have done for Google to talk with these activists? There are very real types of harm that could come from having them arrested, both to the activists (who could face fines, probation, immigration, and other issues) and to Google, who has now lost a bit more trust from the Internet freedom movement as a whole.
The Occupy Google activists have called for a demonstration today outside the Google I/O conference, at Moscone Center 747 Howard St. 12 noon PST. If there are any journalists in the area, we suggest they get down there, but don’t forget to have your lawyer’s number handy…
We at Fight for the Future support all forms of creative protest to draw attention to the urgent need for action around net neutrality, and we hope that Google will engage in meaningful conversation with these protesters, and refrain from unnecessarily involving the police or authorities. "Don’t be evil," Google. Talk it out with these folks and jump in the fight.
Finally, though Occupy Google protesters haven’t mentioned this, we’d love to see Google come out strongly in support of the only real path toward lasting net neutrality: reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act. Google has expressed its opposition to Tom Wheeler’s proposal, but hasn’t yet echoed the demands of nearly every free speech, Internet policy, or human rights advocacy group in the country that is calling for reclassification. That would be one very clear and meaningful way that Google could show these demonstrators that they are truly committed to net neutrality and keeping the Internet free.
Video where police say "Everyone here is under arrest for trespassing.”