Activists Gear Up for Next Phase of Net Neutrality Fight With "Battle for the Net"
BattlefortheNet.com site launches as first FCC comment phase winds down — more than 100k comments submitted in first 48 hours since launch; will serve as hub of organizing as the fight to save Net Neutrality continues.
Several leading grassroots organizations and web platforms today announced the launch of BattlefortheNet.com, a site that will serve as a hub of organizing as the Net Neutrality fight proceeds.
Since it went live earlier this week, more than 100,000 Internet users have already used the website to urge the Federal Communications Commission to implement strong Net Neutrality regulations. (The FCC’s website has been working inconsistently, so the comments remain in the process of being delivered.)
Millions more Americans have made their support for Net Neutrality known to the FCC over the last six months, since a court struck down the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order — representing the largest outpouring of concern about a proposed rule in the history of the FCC.
Net Neutrality is what makes the Internet a level playing field for all content providers and users. Without Net Neutrality rules, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can choose to undermine certain sites by slowing their delivery speed to a crawl — while speeding up other sites, like those that pay the ISPs, or those that promote content that the ISPs own. Start-ups, small business, artists, independent media outlets, and even more established sites would be undermined, as the ISPs seek greater private profit.
BattlefortheNet.com is framed as battle between "Team Cable" and "Team Internet", with those who oppose Net Neutrality designated members of the former, and those who support it — included untold Internet users on the latter. Over months to come, companies, politicians, public figures, and other important players in the fight will be encouraged to make their stand on the issue, and ever more activists will be encouraged to use the site to submit pro-Net Neutrality comments to the FCC.
(The first Net Neutrality comment phase ends tomorrow, after having been postponed from Tuesday because the outpouring of public caused the website to crash; a response phase will then run until September 10th.)
Early backers of the site include the groups Demand Progress, Fight for theFuture, Free Press and CREDO, and web platforms BoingBoing, reddit, Namecheap, Etsy, Kickstarter, StartPage, Tumblr, BitTorrent, Upworthy, and Cheezburger.
According to Demand Progress executive director David Segal, "Millions of Americans have already spoken out in support of Net Neutrality — a level unprecedented in the history of the FCC. With the launch of Battle for the Net, we’re taking this fight to an even higher level, as we’ve created a central space and a framework which will allow for the participation of millions more Americans, and demands that politicians and companies answer that most fundamental question: Whose side are you on?"
"People depend on the Internet every day to communicate and meet their basic needs. That’s why the FCC is seeing this record-breaking outcry,” said Erik Martin, general manager of reddit, “When you try to take away people’s access to the open web, expect them to react similarly to if you tried to take away their access to water or electricity – the public won’t stand for it, and the Internet gives them a voice to say so.”
"The FCC’s current proposal would break the Internet – so the Internet broke the FCC’s website with comments," said Evan Greer of Fight for the Future, "Maybe before the Internet existed it would have been easy for mega-corporations like Comcast to screw us over without anyone noticing. But since the Internet is in fact a communication network, it has allowed the public’s voice to drown out lobbying dollars and PR firms. That’s even more evidence that the Internet need to be reclassified as a public utility that serves public needs over corrupt and narrow private interests."
“It’s hard to say who is more unpopular with the general public – cable companies or politicians,” stated Becky Bond, political director of CREDO. “But if you had to guess, politicians who side with the cable companies over the best interest of their constituents would be a pretty good bet. Elected officials who are tempted to sell out the very people they are supposed to represent should consider the serious blowback that is about to come their way.”
"The Battle for the Net starts today at the FCC, but it will be carried to Congress, the White House and all across the country until we secure real NetNeutrality once and for all," said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press. "Team Cable may have the most expensive lobbyists and more money to spend on its misinformation campaigns, but Team Internet will have thecreativity and commitment of millions of users behind it. Chairman Wheeler, President Obama and the rest of Washington should know that this is a fight in which you have to pick sides — but if you stand up for the Internet, the Internet will stand up for you.“