FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 15, 2017 Contact: Tiffiniy Cheng, 413-367-6255, firstname.lastname@example.org
Billboards in six states single out lawmakers who support the FCC’s plan to gut key safeguards preventing ISPs from charging new fees, slowing traffic, or blocking websites
Today digital rights organization Fight for the Future unleashed a series of crowdfunded billboards targeting lawmakers who support FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s efforts to repeal the country’s net neutrality rules.
With members of Congress back in their home districts, the billboards -paid forby hundreds of small donations - appear in six different states just weeks before the FCC’s final deadline for public input on their proposal to gut net neutrality rules that prevent companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from charging extra fees, throttling, or blocking websites, apps, and online services.
Since the massive July 12th day of action, millions have contacted their representatives – who have oversight over the FCC – to ensure these key protections are not changed or removed. The billboards send a strong message to any Members of Congress contemplating support for the FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality, which is currently being tracked through a “congressional scorecard” on BattleForTheNet.com. So far very few lawmakers have been willing to publicly support Ajit Pai’s plan, likely in light of polling that shows voters – including Republicans – overwhelmingly oppose it.
The billboards encourage constituents to contact their elected representatives; for example, Speaker Paul Ryan’s billboard in Janesville, WI asks, “Want slower, more expensive Internet? Rep. Paul Ryan supports Charter’s plan to destroy net neutrality. Ask him why: (608) 752-4050.”
The outdoor ads feature some of the few members of Congress who came out with early support for FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality rules, including:
“Politicians need to learn that they can’t attack free speech on the Internet and expect to get away with it,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/hers), “Voters from across the political spectrum all agree that they don’t want companies like Comcast and Verizon dictating what they can see and do online. No one is fooled by corrupt lawmakers’ attempts to push for bad legislation while they strip Internet users of protections at the FCC. Hundreds of people donated to make these billboards possible. When you come for the Internet, the Internet comes for you.”
The billboards highlight the increasing scrutiny on Congress - who have important oversight authority over the FCC. With no viable legislation on the table, net neutrality supporters remain opposed to any attempt at legislation that would undermine the strong rules at the FCC, which were fought for by millions of Americans, and are calling on lawmakers to publicly oppose Ajit Pai’s plan, and require the FCC to act with transparency and address serious irregularitiesin its rulemaking process.
Fight for the Future was also one of the leading organizations behind the historic Internet-Wide Day of Action for Net Neutrality on July 12, which drove a record breaking 2 million+ comments to the FCC and Congress in a single day. Learn more atfightforthefuture.org
What is at stake if we lose strong net neutrality rules?
“Under the current net neutrality rules, broadband providers like Comcast and Charter, and wireless providers like AT&T and Verizon, can’t block or slow down your access to lawful content, nor can they create so-called “fast lanes” for content providers who are willing to pay extra.” Source: WIRED
‘In dispute are a set of U.S. federal regulations saying that internet providers should not slow down, block or charge websites extra fees while treating other sites differently. The Federal Communications Commission is currently weighing how to repeal those so-called “net neutrality” rules, in a move that’s expected to benefit internet providers such as Verizon and AT&T.’ Source: The Washington Post
Bombshell story from Gizmodo underscores need for FCC to address serious issues with its public comment process before making any decision on net neutrality. 15,000+ people call on lawmakers to demand that FCC comply with transparency laws
In a bombshell story from Gizmodo today, a former FCC security employee lays waste to the agency’s claims that a pair of DDoS attackstook down the FCC comment website at the exact moments when large amounts of pro net neutrality comments would have been flooding into the docket following viral segments from comedian John Oliver in 2014 and 2017. The agency’s inability to maintain a functional way for the public to comment on its net neutrality proceedings has become an issue of concern for members of Congress overseeing the agency, and raises questions about how it can or should move forward with its rulemaking process.
The security expert who spoke to Gizmodo reveals that the FCC security team concluded that there had not been a malicious attack after the John Oliver segment in 2014. But until-recent FCC CIO David Bray told reporters that anyway, despite the fact there was no evidence of it, and he did not even have access to the types of logs and information that could have led him to that conclusion. The source also leaked a photo of the FCC’s server room to Gizmodo, revealing a mess of wires that would make any competent IT professional cringe.
When pressed, Bray admitted to being the source of news reports about the made up “hacking” attack, but he never reported the incident to the Department of Homeland Security, who require that government agencies notify them of such attacks. With the backing of the FCC press office, Bray fed reporters that exact same story when the agency’s comment system collapsed again this year, preventing large numbers of people from making their voices heard in the agency’s proceeding.
Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said: “These latest revelations are outrageous. A senior FCC official intentionally misled the public and invented cyber attacks to cover up the fact that the agency is failing at their responsibility to maintain a functioning system to receive feedback about an issue that affects every single person using the Internet. The FCC must address these serious issues with their comment process before moving forward, or it will be clear that this is a rogue agency that answers only to large telecom companies, and not to the American people.”
The news comes after more than 15,000 people signed a petitioncalling on their lawmakers to instruct the FCC to comply with transparency laws as the agency moves ahead with its unpopular plan to gut net neutrality protections that prevent ISPs from charging extra fees, throttling, or blocking content online.
The agency is currently facing multiple lawsuits for refusing to release information related to the now-debunked DDoS claims, Chairman Ajit Pai’s discussions with telecom companies, large amounts of fake commentsusing real people’s names and addresses without their permission.
“Members of Congress need to understand that this is not an issue they can ignore or hide from,” Greer added, “Voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support the current net neutrality rules, and want their Senators and Representatives to do their job and speak out to ensure that the FCC is listening to the will of the public, not just to lobbyists from giant telecom companies. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle need to exercise their oversight and demand that the FCC act transparently during this proceeding.”
Fight for the Future has been working to inform the public about the serious issues surrounding the FCC’s comment process. The group organized a letterfrom dozens of people whose names and addresses were used to submit anti net neutrality comments without their permission, as well as several petitions garnering tens of thousands of signatures calling on the agency to come clean about the alleged DDoSattack that prevented concerned citizens from submitting comments.
Fight for the Future was also one of the leading organizations behind the historic Internet-Wide Day of Action for Net Neutrality on July 12, which drove a record breaking 2 million+ comments to the FCC and Congress in a single day. Learn more at fightforthefuture.org
Agency refuses to release hundreds of pages of documents related to alleged incident. Congress must demand answers.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) admitted last night that it has no “documented analysis” to back up its claim that a DDoS attack took down the agency’s public comment website immediately following a viral John Oliver segment about net neutrality in May.
The news comes in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Gizmodo – but the FCC refused to release more than 200 pages of additional documents related to the alleged incident. Fight for the Future, a nonpartisan digital rights organization that played a lead role in the massive net neutrality day of action on July 12, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to campaign director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
“At this point even supporters of Ajit Pai’s plan to gut online free speech protections have to be wondering: what is the FCC hiding?
This federal agency has a responsibility to maintain a functioning website for the public to comment on proceedings that have a profound impact on our economy, our democracy, and the future of the Internet.
It’s clear that the FCC has failed to perform this basic duty, and now they are refusing to release hundreds of pages of documents that could help shed light on what really happened here, and who, if anyone, has been attempting to interfere with the public comment process.
The public deserves to know whether former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai is protecting the person or organization behind these alleged DDoS attacks and the flood of fake comments using stolen identities that have tainted the FCC’s docket.
Net neutrality protections protect Internet users from extra fees, censorship, and throttling. Members of Congress who oversee the FCC must demand that the agency provide adequate answers to these serious questions surrounding their comment process before they make any decision about net neutrality rules that affect hundreds of millions of Internet users.”
Fight for the Future is one of the leading grassroots organizations fighting for net neutrality and Internet freedom. The group recently announcedplans to crowdfund billboards to expose members of Congress who support the FCC’s plan to dismantle net neutrality protections, and launched a scorecard to make it easy for voters to learn where their lawmakers stand on the issue. The group also played a lead role in the massive July 12 day of action that drovemillions of comments, emails, and phone calls to decision makers in support of the Title II rules.
News reports today indicate that the White House has offered comments regarding the FCC’s plan to slash Title II based net neutrality protections that prevent companies like Comcast and AT&T from charging extra fees, or engaging in throttling, offering paid fast lanes, and censorship. Digital rights group Fight for the Future, a leading net neutrality organization that played a key role in the recent massive day of action on July 12, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to campaign director, Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
“The White House’s comments today are far from full throated support for the FCC’s plan, and underscore the reality that voters from across the political spectrum, including more than 75% of those who voted for Donald Trump, support strong net neutrality protections that keep the web free of extra fees, throttling, and censorship.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai is increasingly isolated – he has clearly misjudged the Republican base. No one wants companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T to have the power to decide what we can see and what we can say on the Internet.
The White House fell far short of supporting the FCC’s plan, and only noted that they are right to “review” the current rules. This is a clear signal that they know how unpopular the repeal of net neutrality rules is with voters, including conservatives and libertarians.
Net neutrality is the free speech fight of our generation. Internet users are outraged and paying attention. Decision makers in Washington, DC need to listen to the public, not just lobbyists from big telecom companies. When they do, they’ll realize that allowing the FCC to move forward with their plan to slash net neutrality protections will result in them being seen by constituents as enemies of the Internet, enemies of innovation, and enemies of freedom.”
Fight for the Future announced this morning plans to turn its focus to Congress, with a new wave of billboards focused on lawmakers who support the FCC’s plan, and a “congressional scorecard” to make it easy for voters to learn where their members stand.
Background on the historic July 12 net neutrality day of action:
Nearly all of the most popular websites on the web participated in a historic Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality on July 12, 2017 to oppose the FCC’s plan to slash Title II, the legal foundation for net neutrality rules that protect online free speech and innovation. A flood of web platforms small and large like Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, Spotify, 4chan, Airbnb, Amazon, Mozilla, OK Cupid, Vimeo, Tinder, Expedia, Pornhub, Imgur, Yelp, Spotify, and Soundcloud – along with a vast array of online communities from every corner of the Internet: gaming forums, YouTube creators, subreddits and more – displayed prominent protest messages to their users, encouraging them to take action by contacting the FCC and Congress through tools like BattleForTheNet.com that make it easy for Internet users to make their voices heard.
Broad participation from every corner of the Internet: from online gaming communities to librarians to real estate sites to grassroots organizations to independent musicians. See a gallery here.
Facebook, Google, and Dropbox three of the largest Internet companies, came out publicly with strong statements in support of the current FCC rules. This is significant – especially given Facebook’s previous opposition to certain net neutrality rules, notably in India.
The effort is led by many of the grassroots groups behind the largest online protests in history including the SOPA blackout and the Internet Slowdown. Media attention for online mobilizations tends to focus on the big names participating, but there is a much more interesting story: a coalition of Internet activists huddled over their laptops in coworking spaces, home offices, and coffee shops, who are the ones who came up with the idea, called for, and organized the protest, and have since been working together to lay the groundwork, build the technical tools, and create the educational resources that make it possible for large and small websites to participate in these mass days of action. It’s a grassroots effort involving dozens of volunteers working together in Slack channels, outreach spreadsheets, endless email chains, organizing in online communities and forums, and an enormous amount of creativity and digital elbow grease.
The list of sites and apps participating has grown so quickly it’s almost impossible to keep up, but participants include Automattic (Wordpress), eBay, Rosetta Stone, Pinterest, Amazon, Mozilla, Netflix, Etsy, Kickstarter, Soundcloud, Dropbox, Spotify, Redfin, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Medium, Y Combinator, GitHub, Pantheon, Opera, Bittorrent Inc., Shapeways, Nextdoor, Stack Overflow, Funny Or Die, Dreamhost, and CREDO Mobile, Goldenfrog, Fark, Chess.com, Namecheap, DuckDuckGo, Checkout.com, Sonic, Ting, ProtonMail, O’Reilly Media, SlashDot, Dribble, Dischord, SourceForge, and Union Square Ventures. Organizations participating include Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, Demand Progress, Center for Media Justice, EFF, Internet Association, Internet Archive, World Wide Web Foundation, Creative Commons, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Greenpeace, Common Cause, ACLU, Rock the Vote, American Library Association, Daily Kos, OpenMedia, The Nation, PCCC, MoveOn, OFA, Public Knowledge, OTI, Color of Change, MoveOn, Free Software Foundation, Internet Creators Guild, the Women’s March, and many others.
This morning Fight for the Future announcedplans to put up crowdfunded billboards focused on members of Congress who oppose net neutrality protections.
Rep Scalise’s name was incorrectly included in private emails to two reporters, due to a copy paste error, and reported by Politico. This error was immediately corrected once brought to our attention, and we regret the confusion it caused. We would obviously not run billboards against someone who is in the hospital, and wish Rep Scalise a speedy recovery.
As for the billboards focused on other members, Congress plays an important role overseeing the FCC, and voters deserve to know where their members stand. The goal of our billboards is to make sure that the public knows which members are supporting the FCC’s plan to dismantle important net neutrality protections.