Two weeks ago, the strongest state-level net neutrality bill was gutted in a committee hearing by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, which led many observers to believe the bill was dead thanks to the power of giant telecoms like Comcast and AT&T. But the move sparked an unprecedented public outcry from Californians, who made thousands of phone calls, flooded social media, and crowdfunded more than $14,000 in order to put up a billboard in Chairman Santiago’s district. Today, in a win for the open Internet, Santiago announced that all of SB 822’s core protections are being restored and that he’s now a co-author of the bill.
This can only be described as a massive win for the diverse coalition that supported SB 822.
Online grassroots efforts drove Santiago back to the table to negotiate with Senator Scott Wiener, the author of SB 822. Based on the reports, we won back all of the key protections that had been ripped out of the bill, including the essential ban on harmful zero-rating schemes like AT&T’s zero-rating of its video sites and services, while counting all other video against users’ artificially low data caps.
Given these developments, Fight for the Future has put the Santiago billboard campaign on “pause.” If these reports are confirmed once the final text of the bill is released, the funds raised for the billboard will be used to support activism focused on passing SB 822 through the Assembly. If other California Assembly members attempt to block the bill on behalf of big donors like AT&T, they can be targeted with billboards as well to ensure their constituents know what they’re doing.
Fight for the Future issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Deputy Director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
“We appreciate Assemblymember Miguel Santiago’s change of heart. This should be a lesson to other lawmakers: don’t mess with net neutrality unless you’re prepared to feel your constituents’ wrath. Today’s news shows the power of the Internet to overcome business as usual and win real victories for the public.
The protections that have been restored to SB 822, based on today’s reports, are essential for preventing Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast from abusing their monopoly power to control what we do online by turning the internet into a playground they control. The protections against discriminatory zero rating schemes are especially essential for low-income Californians, who are disproportionately affected by low data caps, and who would be forced to experienced a second-class Internet where their ISP chooses what they are most likely to see, how they stream video, and where they get their news.
Strong net neutrality protections are essential for a functional democracy. The open Internet is one of the most important tools we have for challenging injustice and tyranny. The stakes are high and what happens in California will have an impact on Internet users everywhere. We will continue to fight tooth and nail to ensure that SB 822 passes the Assembly with all key protections intact.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 3, 2018 Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, email@example.com
This press statement has been updated to reflect that there are now nearly 250,000 signatures on petitions calling on big tech companies to drop their contracts with ICE and Border Patrol.
A growing coalition of grassroots advocacy groups are demanding that Microsoft, Salesforce, and other large tech companies drop their contracts with immigration enforcement agencies like ICE and Border Patrol. Amid disturbing reports of widespread human rights abuses, nearly 250,000 people have already signed on to petitions launched by Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, CREDO, Demand Progress, Defending Rights and Dissent, Fight for the Future, Free Press, The Nation, Presente.org, SumOfUs.
The groups’ demands echo those led by employees at Microsoft, Salesforce, and Amazon whom have signed on to open letters saying that they do not want to be part of building software used to target immigrant families. The organizations plan to escalate their efforts in the coming days, including in-person protests and a petition delivery. See links to the separate petitions below.
“The trauma of family separation will run deep for the children and families involved and big tech companies play a huge part in that. Technology can be used to protect or violate human rights. Companies like Microsoft and Salesforce have chosen to use their services to violate them all while saying they care about human rights. It’s hypocrisy. That’s why we won’t back down until all tech companies drop their contracts with ICE,” said Jelani Drew, Kairos Fellow at Fight for the Future, who launched this petition.
“Microsoft must honor the demands of its own employees and thousands of people across the country calling on the company to drop its contract with ICE. Otherwise, it will forever be remembered as the tech company that powered Trump’s brutal policy of family separation and detention. The Trump Administration’s attack on children and families is unconscionable and Microsoft’s failure to act in the face of these glaring human rights abuses is beyond disturbing. History is calling, and it’s asking Microsoft to take a side,“ said Reem Suleiman, senior campaigner at SumOfUs, who launched this petition.
“Microsoft is approaching a day of reckoning. They’ve gained millions while hundreds of families have lost their children. The company must now make a choice - either help ICE continue to destroy families, or take action and cancel their contract. In the face of such inhumanity there is no other way,” said Steven Renderos, Organizing Director at Center for Media Justice, who launched this petition.
“Corporations supporting the inhumane policies of the Trump Administration have lost their moral compass and will be held responsible for the violence and suffering they profit from. No company should be in the business of caging families. On this 4th of July, Presente members have declared their Independence from criminal or cowardly corporations who assist the President’s immigration racket.” Said Matt Nelson, Executive Director, Presente.org (he/him) who launched this petition.
“If Microsoft is as shocked and dismayed as they claim to be by ICE agents forcibly separating children from their parents at the border, then they have a moral obligation to take action and divest themselves from the ‘mission critical’ services they provide to ICE,” said Reuben Hayslett from Demand Progress, he launched this petition.
“We’re seeing that employees inside tech companies are pushing for the products they build to be used in ethical ways for people at the border and around the world. Microsoft employees are not accepting executives’ efforts to downplay the company’s contracts with ICE and are demanding that their work not contribute to the operations of this agency,” said Yana Calou from Coworker.org, which provides education for employees raising their voices at work.
“Tech companies contracting with ICE and CBP, including Microsoft, Salesforce, Thomson Reuters, Hewlett Packard, Motorola, and Dell are all complicit in and profiting from a violent and murderous mass incarceration and deportation scheme,” said Scott Roberts, Senior Campaign Director at Color Of Change which launched this petition. “No child belongs in a cage, tent city, or juvenile detention center at any time or in any place. The act of separating and detaining families would not be possible without the massive bureaucratic and logistical machine behind it. It is not enough to simply speak symbolic words against these acts. Companies like Microsoft must take action in the one way that will make an actual impact, canceling their contracts. We will hold any corporation accountable for their role in advancing Trump’s violence against our communities, and we will not stop they until heed the call of thousands of tech workers and people directly impacted by this crisis.”
“Corporate complicity in human rights abuses can’t be excused, it must be exposed and stopped. Our members are eager to hold tech companies accountable for profiting off contracts with ICE, and to call out the hypocrisy of companies that decry family separation while helping the Trump administration enforce draconian and inhumane immigration policies,” said Sue Udry, Executive Director of Defending Rights and Dissent, who launched this petition.
Several other organizations have already begun preparing their own campaigns echoing these calls.
More than 1,000 vets have already signed on to the open letter calling on House Reps to sign discharge petition
Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, a group of US veterans passionate about Internet freedom have launched VetsForThe.Net, an open letter calling on elected officials in Congress to sign the discharge petition and vote to reverse the FCC’s resoundingly unpopular repeal of net neutrality.
More than 1,000 US veterans of all branches of service have already signed on to the letter in the first 48 hours since it was launched. The effort is supported by digital rights group Fight for the Future in collaboration with volunteers from several veterans groups.
“Veterans, military families, and service members rely on the Internet to keep in touch with loved ones overseas and access essential services at home. The open Internet allows American small businesses to thrive, and has created new jobs — in the tech field and others — that veterans urgently need,” the letter reads. “As veterans, we have served and we have sacrificed. When we put on the uniform we were told it was to defend basic freedoms for all. We are deeply concerned those same freedoms will not be protected without strong, enforceable net neutrality. As a result, we are asking our representatives to sign the discharge petition and vote for the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to reverse the FCC’s repeal and restore open Internet protections that are essential for American’s online freedom.”
“Both as a soldier and as an activist, I’ve worked hard to defend democracy. A free and open internet is an essential platform for bringing people together and having the important conversations that make democracy possible,” said Tim Ellis, a US Army Reserve veteran who is coordinating the VetsForThe.Net letter, “We cannot stand idle while it’s sold off to the highest bidder. Our elected officials have the power to reverse the FCC’s decision and restore net neutrality. Veterans are asking them to do the right thing.”
Some of the additional comments added by signers of the letter:
Robert York, US Navy Veteran, Coupesville, WA: “As a US Navy veteran who deployed from my family numerous times, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being able to connect via the internet with loved ones at home. Please act to repeal the FCC decision to roll back net neutrality rules and keep an open and fair internet for our service members and their family.”
Jennifer Welling, US Air Force Veteran, Baltimore, MD: “Please don’t let this be another way that our government lets down veterans. Stand for what you know is right.”
Chris Prescott, US Army Veteran, Plymouth, MN: “I work in the IT industry as well as being an Army veteran and I am extremely disappointed that the FCC has abdicated its responsibility to protect American citizens from abuse by major Internet Service Providers. I respectfully demand that Congress take action to reverse the FCC decision to remove Title 2 oversight of Internet Service Providers.”
Matthew Lakey, US Air Force Veteran, Heber City, UT: “I love this country dearly and would hate to see it put a cap on the open internet. Please consider my opinion. Thank you. Happy flying!”
James W Bryant, US Marines Veteran, Marble Falls, TX: “I am a veteran who is in school for Information Technology. The loss of net neutrality has not done anything to improve the internet access. It will only damage the infrastructure of US internet as prices for connections increase without any improvements to speed. As a veteran whose future income is tied to high internet speeds without data caps, this is a large concern.”
Anthony Semanik, US Army Veteran, West Bloomfield, MI: “I am an Army Signal Corps veteran who worked at a Detroit non-profit (now retired) to provide computer training, technology and connectivity to the underserved of our community in an effort to bridge the Digital Divide. The loss of Net Neutrality cripple those efforts to provide low income folks the access to very vital digital communication.”
Justin Singmaster, US Army Veteran, Phoenix, AZ: “I work from home and my company does not reimburse my internet costs. Ending net neutrality will surely impact my cost of service and will jeopardize my ability to stay working for the company I’ve been employed for 19 years. Not to mention the other negative implications to average Americans. Please reverse the FCC’s ill-advised ruling.”
Michael Hoyt, US Marine Corps Veteran, Freehold, NJ: “Net neutrality shouldn’t be a partisan idea. It’s the right answer for the future of the internet. Do the right thing.”
Los Angeles, CA -– Net Neutrality supporters launched a crowdfunding pageWednesday to collect donations to put up a giant billboard in the district of California Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, who became internet infamous last week for eviscerating the California net neutrality bill SB 822, leaving it full of loopholes demanded by ISPs. Before the amendments, SB 822 was the only state level bill to restore all of the net neutrality protections that FCC repealed on June 11.
Santiago, who counts AT&T and other ISPs among his top donors, is the chairman of the Communications and Conveyance Committee. In an extremely undemocratic hearing last week, he used his powers as chair to force a vote on his hostile amendments, refusing to allow testimony or public comment before the vote.
The billboard campaign is backed by Fight for the Future, a digital rights group with more than 350,000 members in California.
“It’s honestly a shame that we have to expend our members’ energy and resources fighting a California Democrat like Miguel Santiago, who should be representing his constituents and supporting real net neutrality legislation rather than listening to lobbyists from AT&T, one of his top donors,” said Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Fight for the Future. “Unfortunately, Assemblyman Santiago is acting just like California’s own Ajit Pai. He says he supports net neutrality while actively working to dismantle it. He needs to fix the harm he caused, and this crowdfunded billboard will ensure that his constituents know what he is doing in their name.”
California State Senator Scott Wiener, the original author of SB 822, has said that he is working with Santiago in an attempt to restore the crucial protections that were stripped from the bill. Fight for the Future hopes that Santiago helps restore all the protections and that the billboard will prove unnecessary, in which case the funds raised with be used for other net neutrality activism.
In an unprecedented move, the California Assembly’s Committee on Communications and Conveyance just bucked standard procedure and railroaded through a vote to amend net neutrality bill SB 822 by adding gaping loopholes asked for by ISPs like Comcast and AT&T, who are a top donor to the committee Chairman, Miguel Santiago.
In the committee hearing, Senator Scott Wiener, the bill’s original author, stunned by the Chairman forcing a vote before the hearing had even started, said that with the new amendments the bill was now “mutilated” and “a fake net neutrality bill.”
The forced vote on the Amendments passed 8 - 2, with 4 Democrats joining 4 Republicans to eviscerate SB 822, making them the first Democrats to actively help the Trump administration dismantle net neutrality.
“The level of corruption we just witnessed literally makes me sick to my stomach,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights group with more than 350,000 members in California. “These California democrats will go down in history as among the worst corporate shills that have ever held elected office.Californians should rise up and demand that at their Assembly members represent them. The actions of this committee today are an attack not just on net neutrality, but on our democracy.”
These Assembly members voted to gut the bill: Santiago, Garcia, Low, Quirk-Silva, Cervantes, Rodrigues, Maienschein, Kamlager-Dove
These voted against: Obernolte, Mathis
Despite thousands of phone calls from constituents, and letters from Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep Anna Eshoo, Chairman Santiago’s amendments to SB 822 will leave the bill gutted and:
* Allow ISPs to charge websites and small businesses “access fees” just to reach their customers, and block any website or service that doesn’t pay the fee.
* Allows ISPs to circumvent net neutrality protections at the point where data enters the network. Thus, instead of blocking a website as it is transported over the ISP’s network, the ISP can just block it as it enters the ISP’s network
* Allows ISPs to throttle entire classes of applications, (e.g. all online gaming or all online voice calls). Remember that AT&T was previously busted blocking iMessage
* Allows ISPs to Zero-rate their own content, ie AT&T can incentivize you to watch CNN, which they now own, or Comcast can make it free for you to go to NBC’s website while making you use your data to get your news elsewhere.
* Allows ISPs to charge services fees in exchange for zero-rating them, giving large corporations a huge unfair advantage over startups and small businesses.