Thousands of Internet companies strike back against "Fast Track"
More than 7,000 websites join rapid-response "Internet Vote" to protest Trade Promotion Authority legislation that threatens online free speech
Less than a week after Congress introduced Fast Track / Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, thousands of websites and tens of thousands of Internet users have united against it, citing the rampant lack of transparency and accountability in the trade negotiations process, as well as dangerous provisions in agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that undermine freedom of speech on the Web.
More than 7,000 websites and tech companies joined an emergency action on Thursday including well known services like MediaFire, DreamHost, Internet Archive, Private Internet Access, and DailyKos. As the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the proposed legislation, phones in Washington, DC were ringing with the voices of constituents opposing TPA and the TPP. Websites participated by displaying an "Internet Vote" message on their sites that directs users to https://battleforthenet.com/internetvote or by encouraging their users to take action through social media.
Thousands of Internet users also participated by speaking out on social media, with the #InternetVote hashtag being used more than 19,000 times since the Fast Track bills were introduced.
The Internet Vote is being organized by Fight for the Future, a small but mighty digital rights nonprofit best known for its role organizing the massive SOPA protests and the Internet Slowdown, that shifted the tide of the net neutrality fight.
"It’s inspiring to see thousands of websites and tens of thousands of Internet users coming together so quickly to condemn this outdated and dangerous TPA legislation," said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, "Senators Wyden and Hatch must have thought that their bill had some magical powers, or that the Internet was sleeping. They should know by now that any law that threatens Internet users’ rights to communicate, share, learn, and express themselves will be defeated, and the politicians who attach their names to these toxic policies will pay the price at the polls."
"The Internet is showing that secretive vehicles for deciding policy for billions of people will get interrupted and stopped until they become a thing of the past," added Fight for the Future’s co-founder Tiffiniy Cheng, "It used to be ok to have a broken system with a manipulative process that only serve a few, but in the age of the Internet, that’s obviously no longer ok. When people can participate in systems that work and have the means to demand an open, transparent and reasonable process, they come to expect it in our politics too. That’s going to be the future, so politicians may as well get used to it now."
"This Trade Promotion Authority bill is a disaster for the Internet, for government transparency, and for our democracy," said David Segal, executive director of the Internet advocacy group Demand Progress, who also supported the Internet Vote effort, "The Internet is simply too important to our economy and to our basic rights for decisions that affect it to be made in secret by lobbyists and bureaucrats. The public deserves a voice. Today, the public is demanding a voice."