Fight for the Future


FCC ignores growing evidence of fraud, moves ahead with plan to slash net neutrality protections

Posted 12:40 EDT on May 18, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, press@fightforthefuture.org, 978-852-6457

New evidence raises even greater suspicion about flood of fraudulent anti-net neutrality comments. Numerous individuals have confirmed that personal information was used to file comments without their permission, data analysis shows likely connection to stolen databases.

Today, the FCC voted to move ahead with its plan to slash net neutrality protections, despite overwhelming public outcry and growing evidence of serious fraud by net neutrality opponents.

Fight for the Future is calling on Internet users, the FCC, and state Attorneys General to investigate this potential case of mass identity fraud. The group has launched a website: Comcastroturf.com, where Internet users can check if their personal information was used to file a comment without their permission and contact the authorities to request an investigation.

“The FCC is still refusing to release proof of an alleged DDoS attack that silenced voices in support of Title II net neutrality protections, and now there is significant evidence that a person or organization has been using stolen names and addresses to fraudulently file comments opposing net neutrality,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “If this FCC has any legitimacy, it simply cannot move forward until an investigation has been conducted. We need to know who is doing this, if Ajit Pai or other FCC officials knew that it was happening, and whether any of this illegal activity has been funded by companies like Comcast and Verizon who have a long history of financing astroturf groups. State Attorneys General should immediate investigate whether people in their state were affected by this, and the FCC should immediately release any and all information that it has about who is submitting these fake comments.”

Here’s what we know:

  • Numerous media outlets have reported that more than 450,000 suspicious comments – all containing the same misleading rhetoric, many submitted in alphabetical order and in perfect formatting, opposing net neutrality protections – have been submitted into the FCC’s docket. It seems extremely likely that a significant portion of these comments are completely fake, and were submitted using real people’s names and addresses without their permission.

  • Journalists have spoken to many people whose personal information was used to file an anti-net neutrality comment who confirmed that they never filed such a comment. 

  • Various security researchers have noted that a significant portion of the suspicious anti-net neutrality comments use names and addresses found in breached databases including River City Media and Modern Business Solutions. Statistical analysis shows a much greater percentage of the anti-Title II comments use information found in leaked/stolen lists than other comments.

  • Fight for the Future directly interviewed more than a dozen people and confirmed that they had not filed the comments in question, nor had they signed any petitions that could conceivably have used that comment text. Our campaigner knocked on doors in her zipcode in Tampa, FL and spoke in person to several people whose information had been used to file a comment without their permission. We interviewed these people thoroughly and ensured that they understood the issue well enough that they could not have filed a comment and forgotten about it. 

  • The FCC has refused to show evidence for its claim that a DDoS attack took down their site during the exact same time that large numbers of pro net neutrality comments would have been flowing in from John Oliver’s segment on Last Week Tonight. Security experts and even a former senior FCC staffer have disputed their unfounded claims, raising questions about whether the agency is actively trying to silence supporters of net neutrality while knowingly accepting fraudulent comments opposing it. 

  • Fortune has reported that if you remove the suspicious comments, 97% of the remaining comments are in support of Title II based net neutrality protections.
  • In 2014, it was widely reported that a group allied with the cable & telecom lobby, American Commitment, rented space on several email lists oriented towards older conservative voters and sent misleading emails soliciting comments to the FCC opposing net neutrality rules. Given the large number of comments they collected (~1 million) the cost of the list rentals would have been extremely high.
  • It was also reported in Politico in 2014 that the American Commitment letter was submitted to members of Congress using suspicious, out-of-district addresses, including from constituents who didn’t recall sending such a message.
  • The text of the misleading anti-net neutrality comment has been tied to the relatively unknown group Center for Individual Freedom. The group claims that they have been collecting signatures through an online web form, but that form does not appear on their website or social media. It would be extremely unusual, if not impossible, for a letter that is not visible on the web or social media to attract even tens of thousands of signers, much less hundreds of thousands. The only way to accomplish that would be to spend potentially tens of millions of dollars on list rentals and advertising.

Fight for the Future encourages journalists to investigate this situation, and is calling for the FCC to disclose any information it has pertaining to the alleged DDoS incident and the person or organization behind these likely fraudulent comments. Further, we encourage journalists to ask Cable companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T whether they are funding this activity, or providing funding for groups that could be engaging in this activity.

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Fight for the Future launches its first A-Team to pass universal health care in New York, nationwide.

Posted 15:47 EDT on May 17, 2017

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 17, 2017

Contact: Holmes Wilson, press@fightforthefuture.org, 614-465-6371

First A-Team sets out to secure a ground-breaking victory on universal health care in New York state

Fight for the Future is proud to announce the launch of its first A-Team, a program created to help activists launch special-ops teams for a new style of resistance activism.

Yesterday, the New York Health Act (NYHA), the bill that would bring single-payer healthcare to all New York residents, passed the Assembly. Fight for the Future is supporting NY Health Act Now, a group created with A-Teams funding, that joined the fight in recent months.  They are building support for the Act through the power of the internet - web, social media, and grassroots campaigning. The group—made up of freelance film and media professionals who rely on the Affordable Care Act—met through a slack channel made up of people concerned about the attacks on the ACA following last November’s election. The group decided to get behind the New York Health Act.

The Act would be the first of its kind and expand Medicare for all New York residents. The bill will now move on to the Senate and with only 35 days left in the legislative session, the members of NY Health Act Now are working feverishly to demonstrate overwhelming support for the bill in order to secure a victory.

“Trump seems determined to end Obamacare, so states like New York have millions of people they need to protect,” said Holmes Wilson, co-founder of Fight for the Future, “But the best part is, this is an opportunity to pass something better and cheaper than Obamacare, making it a model for other states to follow, and using Trump’s onslaught to achieve long-overdue change—that’s why we’re so excited about this team.”  

The bill already has widespread support thanks to years of grassroots organizing largely coordinated by the statewide umbrella organization the Campaign for New York Health, which has secured endorsements from hundreds of labor organizations, community groups, faith groups, businesses, and local governments.

“We are honored and excited to get the opportunity to join the incredible people fighting for healthcare reform in New York. With A-Team support, we can focus our energy on bringing coverage to all New York residents. We are New York. We’re progressive, we’re caring, and we have a higher GDP than Australia. We can lead the way on healthcare,” said Alexandra Rivera (Brooklyn, NY), co-founder of NY Health Act Now. Australia already has universal, single-payer healthcare.

Fight for the Future was instrumental in the massive grassroots campaign that successfully pushed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact the strongest net neutrality protections in US. history last year. They built the page BattleForTheNet.com, which was responsible for more than ¼ of all the net neutrality comments received by the FCC during its feedback process.

Fight for the Future is best known for their role in the massive online protests against SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and continues to organize many of the largest protests in the history of the Internet. Learn more at FightFortheFuture.org

NY Health Act Now started as a group of film, media, and communication professionals who rely heavily on the Affordable Care Act and were concerned about the attacks on it following last November’s election. They partner with progressive organizations, public health groups, physicians groups and others to provide media content and communication strategy to bolster their efforts. To date, they have launched passnyhealth.com, launched DearCuomo.com to write letters encouraging Gov. Cuomo to come out in support of the bill, and created tools for canvassers and local organizers to engage with businesses owners.

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The FCC cannot move forward until it investigates flood of fake anti-net neutrality comments using stolen names and addresses

Posted 12:28 EDT on May 17, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 17, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, press@fightforthefuture.org, 978-852-6457

Numerous individuals have confirmed that personal information was used to file comments without their permission, data analysis shows likely connection to stolen databases. Fight for the Future demands answers.

Amid numerous media reports about suspicious anti-net neutrality comments that have been submitted into the FCC docket, digital rights group Fight for the Future is calling on Internet users, the FCC, and state Attorneys General to investigate this potential case of mass identity fraud. The group has launched a website: Comcastroturf.com, where Internet users can check if their personal information was used to file a comment without their permission and contact the authorities to request an investigation.

“The FCC is still refusing to release proof of an alleged DDoS attack that silenced voices in support of Title II net neutrality protections, and now there is significant evidence that a person or organization has been using stolen names and addresses to fraudulently file comments opposing net neutrality,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “If this FCC has any legitimacy, it simply cannot move forward until an investigation has been conducted. We need to know who is doing this, if Ajit Pai or other FCC officials knew that it was happening, and whether any of this illegal activity has been funded by companies like Comcast and Verizon who have a long history of financing astroturf groups. State Attorneys General should immediate investigate whether people in their state were affected by this, and the FCC should immediately release any and all information that it has about who is submitting these fake comments.”

Here’s what we know:

  • Numerous media outlets have reported that more than 450,000 suspicious comments – all containing the same misleading rhetoric, many submitted in alphabetical order and in perfect formatting, opposing net neutrality protections – have been submitted into the FCC’s docket. It seems extremely likely that a significant portion of these comments are completely fake, and were submitted using real people’s names and addresses without their permission.

  • Journalists have spoken to many people whose personal information was used to file an anti-net neutrality comment who confirmed that they never filed such a comment. 

  • Various security researchers have noted that a significant portion of the suspicious anti-net neutrality comments use names and addresses found in breached databases including River City Media and Modern Business Solutions. Statistical analysis shows a much greater percentage of the anti-Title II comments use information found in leaked/stolen lists than other comments.

  • Fight for the Future directly interviewed more than a dozen people and confirmed that they had not filed the comments in question, nor had they signed any petitions that could conceivably have used that comment text. Our campaigner knocked on doors in her zipcode in Tampa, FL and spoke in person to several people whose information had been used to file a comment without their permission. We interviewed these people thoroughly and ensured that they understood the issue well enough that they could not have filed a comment and forgotten about it. 

  • The FCC has refused to show evidence for its claim that a DDoS attack took down their site during the exact same time that large numbers of pro net neutrality comments would have been flowing in from John Oliver’s segment on Last Week Tonight. Security experts and even a former senior FCC staffer have disputed their unfounded claims, raising questions about whether the agency is actively trying to silence supporters of net neutrality while knowingly accepting fraudulent comments opposing it. 

  • Fortune has reported that if you remove the suspicious comments, 97% of the remaining comments are in support of Title II based net neutrality protections.
  • In 2014, it was widely reported that a group allied with the cable & telecom lobby, American Commitment, rented space on several email lists oriented towards older conservative voters and sent misleading emails soliciting comments to the FCC opposing net neutrality rules. Given the large number of comments they collected (~1 million) the cost of the list rentals would have been extremely high.
  • It was also reported in Politico in 2014 that the American Commitment letter was submitted to members of Congress using suspicious, out-of-district addresses, including from constituents who didn’t recall sending such a message.
  • The text of the misleading anti-net neutrality comment has been tied to the relatively unknown group Center for Individual Freedom. The group claims that they have been collecting signatures through an online web form, but that form does not appear on their website or social media. It would be extremely unusual, if not impossible, for a letter that is not visible on the web or social media to attract even tens of thousands of signers, much less hundreds of thousands. The only way to accomplish that would be to spend potentially tens of millions of dollars on list rentals and advertising.

Fight for the Future encourages journalists to investigate this situation, and is calling for the FCC to disclose any information it has pertaining to the alleged DDoS incident and the person or organization behind these likely fraudulent comments. Further, we encourage journalists to ask Cable companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T whether they are funding this activity, or providing funding for groups that could be engaging in this activity.

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Fight for the Future celebrates the release of Chelsea Manning

Posted 08:29 EDT on May 11, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 11, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Grassroots activism helped secure Chelsea’s freedom

Next week, on May 17th, Chelsea Manning will be released after 7 years of incarceration.

Fight for the Future, a free speech organization that has led many of the largest online efforts in support of Chelsea, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Campaign Director, Evan Greer (pronouns: she/hers.) Greer is a personal friend and close supporter of Manning, and has spoken to her on the phone regularly during the last several years of her imprisonment.

“Chelsea Manning is one of the most courageous and compassionate people I have ever had the privilege to get to know. The world needs people like her now more than ever.

Chelsea’s release is a victory for transparency, democracy, and freedom of expression. It’s a victory for human rights and for LGBTQ people in prison. And it’s a testament to the power of grassroots activism.

Hundreds of thousands of people spoke out in support of Chelsea through petitions, protests, and online campaigns. She has inspired so many of us with her limitless passion and drive to make the world a better place, speak truth to power, and help others.

Fight for the Future is honored to have played a role in helping secure Chelsea Manning’s freedom. We thank all of our supporters who took action to defend her basic rights and draw attention to the government’s inhumane treatment of this brave woman, who was held in conditions that the United Nations condemned as torture.

As for me, I just can’t wait to finally meet Chelsea face to face, and give her a hug.”

Fight for the Future is a digital rights and free speech non-profit best known for organizing some of the largest online protests in history against online censorship and surveillance, and in support of net neutrality. The group has played a leading role in supporting Chelsea Manning over the last several years. Fight for the Future has:

  • Gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures on several petitions opposing the government’s mistreatment of Chelsea.
  • Pushed a Whitehouse.gov petition calling for clemency over the 100,000 signature threshold required to receive a response from President Obama.
  • Launched HappyBirthdayChelsea.com to send Chelsea thousands of personalized cards on her birthday.
  • Assisted Chelsea in releasing statements to the press regarding her hunger strike and in the aftermath of her suicide attempt.
  • Helped publicize legislation that Chelsea drafted while in prison to abolish the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
  • Launched the #HugsForChelsea campaign which led to a flood of people posting photos of themselves with their arms outstretched, waiting to give Chelsea a hug.
  • Helped promote a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $120,000 to assist with Chelsea’s basic survival expenses upon her release.

Learn more at https://www.fightforthefuture.org or follow us on Twitter @fightfortheftr

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What is the FCC hiding? Thousands call for the agency to provide evidence of alleged DDoS attacks that silenced net neutrality supporters

Posted 07:39 EDT on May 11, 2017
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 11, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, press@fightforthefuture.org, 978-852-6457

Fight for the Future has launched a petition calling for the FCC to release its logs to an independent analyst and guarantee that all comments will be counted

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to come clean about alleged DDoS attacks that the agency claims occurred at the exact same time that comments would have started flooding in from John Oliver’s viral Last Week Tonight segment about net neutrality on Sunday night.

The petition echos Fight for the Future’s demand that the FCC release their logs to an independent security researcher or major media outlet who can verify their claims and inform the public about what really happened here.

“The public wants to know what the FCC is hiding,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “The future of the Internet is too important to be decided without transparency and adequate input from the public. They’ve been lying to us for weeks about net neutrality, it’s very difficult to accept their claims about DDoS attacks when they have provided zero evidence to support them.”

The FCC also claims that they experienced a similar attack after Oliver’s segment on the issue in 2014. The agency has provided zero proof for either of these claims, in the face of the much more likely explanation: the FCC’s system is unprepared to handle large amounts of comments, and turned away tens of thousands of people trying to comment in support of net neutrality.

Gigi Sohn, a former senior staffer at the FCC, said “The official FCC position in 2014 was not that there was a DDoS attack following the John Oliver segment, because there was no clear evidence that such an attack occurred.”

Here’s what we know:

  • The FCC’s servers went down again on Monday night around 8:30pm EST, shortly after the John Oliver segment re-aired on HBO.

  • They have continued to show errors this week. 

  • Former FCC employees deny FCC CIO David Bray’s claim that the agency was hit with a DDoS attack after the John Oliver segment in 2014 and say there was never any evidence of such an attack (see above.)

  • The FCC’s servers were having a variety of problems and went down repeatedly as a result of net neutrality comments in the weeks leading up to the John Oliver segment on Monday. Emails from FCC employees sent to Fight for the Future confirm that they were having “server issues.”

  • In 2014 and 2015 the FCC’s website crashed several times under the weight of net neutrality comments from the public.

  • It can be difficult to distinguish a DDoS attack from a large amount of traffic coming from legitimately concerned citizens looking to file a comment. If the FCC was able to determine that this was a malicious attack, they must have some proof of that, and they should immediately disclose that to the public to verify their claims.

  • The FCC now claims that they have upgraded their site to a “cloud service,” which is consistent with our suspicion that their servers simply buckled under the pressure and they are only now upgrading them, likely after silencing large numbers of pro-net neutrality commenters.

Here is our original statement, which can be attributed to campaign director, Evan Greer, (pronouns: she/hers)

“The FCC’s statement today raises a lot of questions, and the agency should act immediately to ensure that voices of the public are not being silenced as it considers a move that would affect every single person that uses the Internet.

There are two possible scenarios and they are both concerning:

  1. FCC is being intentionally misleading, and trying to claim that the surge in traffic from large numbers of people attempting to comment following John Oliver’s segment amounts to a “DDoS” attack, in order to let themselves off the hook for essentially silencing large numbers of people by not having a properly functioning site to receive comments from the public about an important issue, or

  2. Someone actually did DDoS the FCC’s site at the exact same time as John Oliver’s segment, in order to actively prevent people from commenting in support of keeping the Title II net neutrality rules that millions of people fought for in 2015.

Given Ajit Pai’s open hostility toward net neutrality, and the telecom industry’s long history of astroturfing and paying shady organizations to do their dirty work, either of these scenarios should be concerning for anyone who cares about government transparency, free speech, and the future of the Internet.

The FCC should immediately release its logs to an independent security analyst or major news outlet to verify exactly what happened last night. The public deserves to know, and the FCC has a responsibility to maintain a functioning website and ensure that every member of the public who wants to submit a comment about net neutrality has the ability to do so. Anything less is a subversion of our democracy.”

Fight for the Future was instrumental in the massive grassroots campaign that successfully pushed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact the strongest net neutrality protections in US. history last year. They built the page BattleForTheNet.com, which was responsible for more than ¼ of all the net neutrality comments received by the FCC during its feedback process, and were behind the Internet Slowdown protest, which was supported by more than 40,000 websites including some of the largest on the Web like Kickstarter, Etsy, Netflix, and Tumblr.  

The group also helped take the fight for net neutrality into the streets with creative protest campaigns like Occupy the FCC and the nationwide Internet Emergency protests.

Fight for the Future is best known for their role in the massive online protests against SOPA, the Internet censorship bill, and continues to organize many of the largest protests in the history of the Internet. Over the summer, they organized the high profile Rock Against the TPP tour featuring many celebrities and well known musicians. Learn more at FightFortheFuture.org

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