Digital rights group Fight for the Future has announced plans to crowdfund billboards ahead of the 2018 election targeting Democratic Senators who vote to reauthorize mass government spying powers under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The House voted 256-164 on Thursday to advance S. 139 which reauthorizes Section 702 for another 6 years without any meaningful reforms.
Fight for the Future plans to put up a billboard targeting Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee who opposed reinstating warrant protections for government surveillance programs that target Americans, and released a mock-upof what it might look like. The group is also promoting a chatbot tool allowing Internet users to contact their Senators by texting FREEDOM to 384-387.
Fight for the Future plans to unleash similar crowdfunded billboards targeting Senate Democrats who vote to expand and codify mass surveillance on Tuesday. It would take 41 Senators to deny cloture and temporarily halt the vote.
“The power to turn the Internet into a weapon for mass surveillance is too dangerous for any government to have, but it’s unthinkable in the hands of the Trump administration, which has clearly shown it will use these powers to target the most vulnerable people in our country,” said Laila Abdelaziz, campaigner with Fight for the Future, “Any lawmaker who votes to reauthorize and expand these unconstitutional spying powers is standing on the wrong side of history while enabling totalitarianism and mass discrimination. Constituents deserve to know when their lawmakers are not fighting for their rights but, rather, obstructing them.”
Fight for the Future has crowdfunded more than $50,000 to put up previousbillboards surrounding Internet privacy rules and net neutrality, generating widespread attention.
The House of Representatives just voted 256 - 164 to pass S. 139, a bill that re-authorizes the U.S. government’s mass surveillance authorities under the FISA Amendments Act without fixing major loopholes that allow for unconstitutional domestic spying. The bill enables agencies like the NSA to collect and store massive amounts of information about innocent people without warrants or basic privacy protections.
The controversial vote comes minutes after the House voted to slash a bipartisan amendment offered by Representative Justin Amash that included common sense reforms to close the so-called “backdoor search” loophole and restore Fourth Amendment protections.
Following the vote, Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her), issued the following statement:
“Mass government surveillance makes all of us less safe, not more safe.
Today, lawmakers from both parties failed to uphold the U.S. Constitution and voted to trample Internet freedom and human rights by reauthorizing ineffective and illegal domestic spying powers.
It’s an authoritarian government’s wet dream, and a nightmare for all those who believe in basic liberty, due process, and freedom of expression.
The 26 Democrats who voted to hand the Trump administration this authority, one day after disturbing immigration raids across the country, should be ashamed.
Now it’s up to the Senate to listen to security experts, civil liberties advocates, and the majority of voters from both parties, and vote to stop these illegal and dangerous government spying programs.”
In recent days, a growing cross-partisan coalition of civil liberties, civil rights, and transparency organizations joined forces to support Representative Justin Amash’s (R-MI) bipartisan amendment to end the warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans. Thousands of Americans called, emailed, and tweeted their representatives urging them to fight for our rights and security and end unconstitutional domestic spying programs.
Next, the fight shifts to the Senate where a bipartisan group of Senators are already publicly stating they will filibuster the bill, as it does not include Fourth Amendment protections for innocent Americans.
Internet users are pledging to vote out lawmakers in 2018 if they do not support Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to restore FCC rules
UPDATE: 40 Senators are now cosponsoring the CRA to save net neutrality. See the complete list here.
Net neutrality advocates have hit an important milestone and are gaining ground in Congress. A Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to overturn the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality has hit the 30 sign-ons from Senators needed to force a vote on the Senate floor. The CRA allows Congress to overturn the FCC’s decision, which has generated widespread bipartisan backlash, with a simple majority vote in the Senate and House, which is increasingly within reach with several Republicans already publicly criticizing the FCC’s move.
Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her), issued the following statement:
“Internet users are angry, educated, and organized. We refuse to back down. Net neutrality is too important to the future of our democracy. Today’s news shows that lawmakers from both parties cannot hide from their constituents on this issue. Every member of the U.S. Senate will have to go on the record, during a tight election year, and either vote to save the Internet or rubber stamp its death warrant.
We will not be fooled by trojan horse legislation branded as a compromise. Millions of people from across the political spectrum fought hard to win the Title II net neutrality protections that the FCC just callously slashed at the behest of telecom lobbyists. The Congressional Review Act gives Congress the power to reverse that corrupt and illegitimate decision and restore the basic protections that enable free expression, creativity, and innovation online.
Any lawmaker foolish enough to be on the wrong side of history by voting against the free and open Internet will regret it come election day.”
Last week, Fight for the Future announced a no holds barred campaign at VoteForNetNeutrality.comcalling on Internet users to pledge to vote against lawmakers who don’t support the CRA resolution to overturn the FCC decision and restore net neutrality protections. Millions of people have taken action in recent months, bombarding Congress with a flood of phone calls, emails, faxes, tweets, protests, and constituent meetings.
Internet users will receive a text message with their Congress members’ voting records right before election day
Internet activists are kicking off 2018 with a bang by launching VoteForNetNeutrality.com, a no holds barred campaign calling on Internet users to vote en masse against lawmakers who refuse to overturn the FCC’s deeply corrupt repeal of net neutrality protections, using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). 29 Senators have already committed to support a CRA vote.
Congress has the power to overturn the FCC with a simple majority vote in both houses using the CRA, which can be forced to a vote even without support from leadership. The vast majorityof American voters (including 3 out of 4 Republicans) opposed the recent FCC move, taken just as lawmakers head into a close election year. Due to CRA rules, it is virtually guaranteed that every member of Congress will have to go on the record as either for or against.
The campaign page displays a scoreboard showing which lawmakers have already signed on to vote for the CRA to overturn the FCC order, and which ones have not. Once a voter signs the pledge, they’ll receive a text message on the eve of the next election with their local lawmakers’ net neutrality voting record, with a reminder to not vote for anyone who didn’t support net neutrality in the CRA vote.
The fight for digital rights has matured into an election year issue. Millions of people from across the political spectrum who called on the FCC and Congress to keep the rules and were ignored will be taking their anger to the polls in 2018.
Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said: “The public has spoken and voters are demanding that their lawmakers do their jobs and defend net neutrality. Any lawmaker that ignores the overwhelming consensus among tech experts and this level of public outcry doesn’t deserve to be in office. News outlets keep asking whether net neutrality will be an election issue in 2018. We are going to make it one.”
The pledge on the page could not be more clear. It reads, “Dear Congress: Unless you vote for a CRA to overturn the FCC net neutrality vote, I will not vote for you. I have given my phone number to Fight for the Future, who will text me your voting record on the eve of your next election.”
“Lobbyists are foaming at the mouth at the chance to ram through bad legislation that permanently undermines net neutrality.” added Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, “The FCC just slashed 22 years of net neutrality rules and precedent even though they’re at the heart of what makes the Internet work, and are overwhelmingly popular with voters from across the political spectrum. The Congressional Review Act exists for a reason––for Congress to overturn undemocratic changes at federal agencies. Congress has a moral imperative to use their CRA powers to overturn the FCC’s rogue action to end the basic principle of the open Internet and are supported by the majority of the public. Whoever doesn’t will pay at the polls.”
Fight for the Future’s small but mighty team and 2 million+ members did a lot in 2017. Here are some of the highlights:
We’re organizing the entire Internet for net neutrality
Along with our allies, we sounded the alarm and built the tech behind the massive online protests that rocked the web this year and drove millions of phone calls, emails, tweets, faxes, and comments to Congress and the FCC. Tens of thousands of websites, subreddits, apps, small businesses, celebrities, and public interest groups participated.
We helped free Chelsea Manning
Fight for the Future worked tirelessly to support whistleblower Chelsea Manning while she was in prison, and waged massive online campaigns that helped lay the groundwork for her release. FFTF Campaign Director Evan Greer wrote about her friendship with Chelsea in The Guardian.
We unleashed hundreds of protests in all 50 states
With our friends at Demand Progress and Free Press, volunteers across the country used the Internet to organize hundreds of protests across the country the week before the FCC’s net neutrality vote. Lawmakers felt the impact, while the protests generated widespread local and national TV, radio, and print coverage.
We were profiled in the New York Times
The New York Times dedicated the front page of its Business Section on Friday, December 8, 2017 to afull profileof Fight for the Future and our unique role combining tech and strategy to mobilize massive numbers of people to fight for net neutrality and Internet freedom.
We built the Internet’s simplest digital security guide
2017 brought heightened awareness and threats of government and corporate surveillance, particularly for marginalized communities. We built #GetSafe, the Internet’s simplest digital security starter guide. It makes it easy for everyone to start securing their phones and computers.
We crowdfunded billboards to expose corruption
Fight for the Future members chipped in small amounts to collectively raise more than $40,000 through online crowdfunding campaigns to put up billboards exposing members of Congress who took big money from the telecom industry and then voted to gut net neutrality and Internet privacy. The Internet loved them. Politicians hated them. They had a huge impact on Congress and generated major local and national media coverage.
We helped uncover massive fraud in the FCC docket
Our Comcastroturf.com tool helped Internet users collectively investigate fraudulent comments submitted to the FCC’s net neutrality docket using stolen identities and helped spark major investigations from members of Congress, Attorneys General, the Wall Street Journal, the Government Accountability Office, and many others.
We brought the Internet directly to lawmakers’ doors
With our friends at Demand Progress and Free Press, we helped build Team Internet, a network of more than half a million net neutrality supporters and thousands of volunteers across the U.S. using peer-to-peer text messaging tools and other tech to coordinate hundreds of in-person meetings, drop-ins, and other face-to-face events in lawmakers’ own backyards.
We helped show net neutrality is not a partisan issue
The telecom lobby poured enormous amounts of money into trying to turn net neutrality into a partisan issue, dividing Internet users left vs right. They failed. We actively worked to organize Internet users from across the political spectrum, and pollafterpollshows that we’re winning.
We organized small businesses and startups
We helped hundreds of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups to make their voices heard through sign-on letters, meetings with lawmakers, and days of action. We helped the world understand why net neutrality is important for small businesses, startups, and the economy, which has played a critical role in building support with lawmakers.
We kept the fight for Internet freedom in the headlines
Fight for the Future staff were interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Time Magazine, Politico, CNN, The Atlantic, NPR, Ars Technica, The Hill, Wired, NBC, Los Angeles Times, CBS, Pitchfork, BBC, The Guardian, The Daily Caller, Reuters, Fox News, and dozens of other outlets. We’re pushing issues of digital rights and internet freedom into the mainstream.