Internet activists, startups, and celebrities have been hosting a marathon livestream driving calls and tweets to legislators
In a historic vote spurred by massive grassroots activism, the US House of Representatives just passed HR 1644, the Save the Internet Act to restore net neutrality. Digital rights group Fight for the Future has been hosting a marathon livestream, featuring cameos from from public interest groups like EFF and Public Knowledge, startups like GitHub, Postmates and Gandi.net, and even celebrities like Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. The vote was 232-190.
Despite relentless and disingenuous telecom misinformation campaigns attempting to turn net neutrality into a partisan issue, one Republican champion supported the bill on final passage. Rep Bill Posey (R-FL) sided with the vast majority of Republican voters and supported the restoration of net neutrality. Every single Democrat supported the bill, even in the face of massive pressure from telecom lobbyists to vote against it or support weakening amendments.
Between the two committee markups and the floor debate yesterday, more than 5 million people have tuned in to the Twitch stream, where viewers are encouraged to contact their representatives using BattleForTheNet.com
The massive burst of attention once again underscores the overwhelming public support for restoring net neutrality protections, and it should give pause to Republican lawmakers who have largely ignored their base on this issue in favor of spewing telecom talking points. Many commenters in the Twitch chat have self-identified as Republicans in support of net neutrality, expressing disappointment in GOP representatives for their disingenuous opposition to the bill.
“We are charging ahead and getting closer to restoring net neutrality every day,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, “President Trump and Mitch McConnell can say whatever they want, but the writing is on the wall: there is overwhelming public consensus in support of real net neutrality and it’s only a matter of time before we win. The politicians standing in the way of Internet freedom are embarrassing themselves -– they’ll go down in history as incompetent, corrupt, and out of touch. Republican, conservative, and libertarian voters don’t want their cable company to control what websites or apps they can visit or where they can get their news. Misinformation and astroturf campaigns can only do so much –– if I were a GOP staffer I’d be telling my boss to get off this sinking ship before it’s too late.”
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Save the Internet Act (HR 1644) as soon as Tuesday afternoon. This is THE bill to overrule Ajit Pai and restore net neutrality, and could be the most important vote affecting the future of the Internet this year.
So we’re hosting an epic all day livestream on Twitch, starting at 9:30am, to show our elected officials that the whole Internet is watching.
We hosted similar livestreams for the last two committee votes on the bill, and more than 1 million people tuned in! All that public pressure and attention has been keeping the bill alive, and beat backattempt by Comcast, AT&T, Verizon (and the politicians who shill for them) to gut the bill or fill it with loopholes using bad amendments.
The livestream will be hosted by Fight for the Future’s own Evan Greer, and feature folks from groups like EFF, Public Knowledge, Free Press, Consumers Union, and Open Technology Institute answering questions and explaining the nuances of the bill. Plus video cameos from supportive members of Congress, staff at web companies like Postmates, Gandi.net, and Private Internet Access VPN, and … guitar god Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.
It’s gonna be a party! Help us send a resounding message that the Internet wants net neutrality restored. Want to be part of the fun? Send us a video of you calling your member of Congress in support of HR 1644 to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add it to the stream!
Congress is about to vote on net neutrality. We’re hosting an epic all day livestream leading up to the vote, with cameos from supportive reps, groups like EFF and Public Knowledge, web companies like GitHub, Postmates, Private Internet Access, and Gandi.nt, and guitar god Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. Tune in!
Today the Save the Internet Act (HR 1644) passed a crucial vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, despite a wave of disingenuous attempts by telecom funded lawmakers to derail the bill or gut its key protections with bad amendments.
The bill was reported out of the committee largely unscathed, and will now head to the House floor as early as next week. Digital rights group Fight for the Future has been leading an online campaign to ensure the bills passage, rallying hundreds of thousands of Internet users to watch the livestreams of the committee votes and contact their lawmakers ahead of the floor vote.
The following statement can be attributed to Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
“Telecom lobbyists should just give up now. Despite ISP giants like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying, misinformation campaigns, and buying influence through campaign contributions, they’ve failed to fool the public and efforts to restore net neutrality are moving forward.
It’s embarrassing watching telecom shills in these committee votes attempt to turn this into a partisan issue when it’s actually quite simple: no one wants their cable company to control what they can see and do on the Internet, or manipulate where they get their news, how they listen to music, or what apps they can use.
The overwhelming majority of voters from across the political spectrum want Congress to do their jobs and restore these basic protections that never should have been taken away in the first place. The Save the Internet Act would do exactly that, and any lawmaker who doesn’t want to invoke the wrath of their constituents should vote for its clean passage on the House floor.”
Bolstered by Internet activism and massive public attention, net neutrality supporters on the Energy and Commerce Committee successfully defeated a swath of terrible amendments that would have completely gutted HR 1644. Two amendments did pass, one that simply clarifies the initial intent of the bill, and one that creates a one year exemption from transparency requirements for small ISPs with less than 100,000 subscribers. While such an exemption is unnecessary, given that many small ISPs say they are happy to comply with such requirements, the amendment is closely aligned with the intent of the 2015 Open Internet Order, and does not undermine the core protections within the bill.
Fight for the Future intends to continue organizing Internet users en masse to fight for the restoration of net neutrality and ensure the clean passage of the Save the Internet act.
Unfortunately, telecom lobbyists have been working around the clock to try to derail the bill. Their main strategy right now is to punch it full of holes with bad amendments. So be sure to tell your rep to vote for a clean bill and oppose amendments that weaken it.
The vote is imminent and we can’t afford to lose this one! If we pass the bill through the committee it will likely get a vote on the House floor next week. But if the bill is gutted through hostile amendments, then we’re back to square one.
Fight for the Future welcomes the introduction of the “Ending Mass Collection of Americans’ Phone Records Act” as a major first step in restoring civil liberties eroded by the U.S. government’s mass surveillance machine.
Yesterday, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI 03) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA 19) introduced the “Ending Mass Collection of Americans’ Phone Records Act.” This bipartisan bill (read the full text here) would permanently shut down the ineffective, and nearly two decades old, National Security Agency (NSA) program surveilling all of our telephone records.
Responding to the bill’s introduction in both the Senate and House, Fight for the Future campaigner Laila Abdelaziz had this to say:
“This bill will once-and-for-all end the NSA’s ineffective and harmful mass surveillance of all of our phone records. It’s a welcome and necessary first-step in a longer fight to dismantle the U.S. government’s sprawling surveillance state.
This bill was introduced on the same day the public learned about a seperate phone records surveillance program based out of the Drug and Enforcement Agency (DEA)—which resulted in the collection of billions of phone records by the DEA without proper legal review. These government programs rely on powerful telecommunications companies that store our record and data in bulk by default. The consequences of such surveillance in a data-driven economy are frightening.
We hope this bill is the first-step in many others taken by this Congress to end the USA PATRIOT Act and restore key civil liberties required for a healthy democratic society.
Fight for the Future is urging everyone to call their members of Congress and ask them to support the “Ending Mass Collection of Americans’ Phone Records Act.” This bipartisan bill is a no-brainer and should be passed and signed into law as swiftly as possible. Furthermore, we urge Congressional lawmakers to investigate the DEA’s phone records program immediately.”