Ajit Pai’s repeal of basic Internet protections on shaky legal ground as Internet activists continue to fight in Congress and at the state level
Tomorrow, net neutrality will get it’s day in court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments in the legal challenge to Ajit Pai’s reckless and resoundingly unpopular repeal of open Internet protections, brought by a coalition of startups, states, and public interest groups.
Digital rights group Fight for the Future, which has been behind the largest online protests in history and mobilized tens of millions of people to defend net neutrality, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Deputy Director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
“Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are going to wish they never picked this fight with the Internet. More than a year after the repeal of net neutrality people are still outraged and paying close attention. Ajit Pai’s FCC blatantly ignored public opinion and acted with reckless disregard for the law in order to give a massive government handout to some of the most power-hungry corporations in the US.
Telecom lobbyists were hoping that we would have given up by now. They thought they could outspend and outlast us. They were wrong. Internet activists are continuing to fight in the courts, in Congress, and in the states. Net neutrality is coming back with a vengeance. It’s only a matter of time.”
Fight for the Future has been calling on Congress to conduct a thorough investigation of Ajit Pai’s corrupt actions at the FCC, and is pushing for lawmakers to act to restore net neutrality while opposing weak legislation pushed by telecom lobbyists that would undermine the open Internet while claiming to save it.
Letter supporting mega merger signed by 13 lawmakers contains unsubstantiated claims about consumer benefits.
Late Monday afternoon, POLITICO reported that a small handful of House lawmakers had issued a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) supporting the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. Led by reps Anna Eshoo and Billy Long, the letter misleadingly claims that that the merger will “provide consumers with lower costs,” even though experts have shown that less mobile competition will lead to higher wireless costs for the entire country, hurting marginalized and low-income communities the most.
Responding to this Monday’s letter. Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her) had this to say:
“This letter looks like it was written by a T-Mobile lobbyist. No elected representative in their right mind should be supporting a merger that will lead to higher cell phone bills and fewer jobs for their constituents. How can anyone believe that less competition will lead to lower prices? Even Sprint and T-Mobile’s own FCC filings have indicated that prices will rise after the merger. We’re particularly disappointed to see Democrats who previously fought the FCC’s net neutrality repeal lining up to support a massive handout for T-Mobile and Sprint executives. It’s sad but unsurprising, given that the letter’s signatories have collectively taken over $2.4 million dollars from Internet service providers over the years. Politicians should have learned by now that they can’t bend over backwards to put telecom giants ahead of their constituents and expect to get away with it.”
Fight for the Future is leading an online campaign asking Congress and the FCC to reject the merger at https://www.thismergerwillmakeyourcellphonebillmoreexpensive.com/. To date over 70,000 people have taken action to stop the merger through online petitions run by digital rights groups including Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, Demand Progress, Common Cause, Center for Media Justice, and OpenMedia.
Privacy advocates are calling on Congress to ensure the FCC leads a full investigation, and expect stiff penalties or new legislation to end this dangerous practice once and for all
Since the release of a bombshell Motherboard report detailing how cell phone companies sell access to users’ real time-location data, more than 20,000 people have called on Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to conduct a full investigation and take action to ensure that this never happens again. Digital rights groups Fight for the Future and OpenMedia have been leading the campaign. Since the report’s release earlier this month, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers expressed concern about the practice and are demanding answers from the FCC and carriers.
Three days after the report’s initial release, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) requested an emergency briefing about the carriers’ unauthorized sale of location data from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who ultimately refused. Legal experts have noted that the FCC has the authority to investigate the abuse of location data and assess whether or not the telecoms broke the agency’s rules, but so far there has been no sign of action from the Commission. New documents published by Motherboard this week show how one of the third -parties at the heart of the initial report lobbied the FCC to loosen restrictions on how the data it sells can be used.
“Selling cell phone customers’ real-time location data isn’t just gross or unsettling, it’s extremely dangerous,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her), “It’s not hard to imagine what could happen if this information fell into the wrong hands: a thief, a stalker, an abusive ex, an authoritarian government. People’s basic safety and security should not be a partisan issue, so it’s great that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are speaking out, but we need more than words. We particularly need GOP lawmakers to call on their party’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, to immediately investigate whether laws were broken. And we need all of Congress to act to ensure that this practice is permanently banned, and that this never happens again.”
Since the report’s initial release, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile have voluntarily agreed to end the sale of users’ location, but privacy advocates warn that this doesn’t go far enough. They are calling on the federal government to ensure there is a thorough investigation into whether existing laws were broken or whether new rules are required to ban this practice. If existing laws were broken, then activists expect the FCC to administer stiff penalties on the telecoms. If not, then Congress must act to ban the sale of location data without users’ consent.
So far over 22,000 privacy advocates take action through campaigns run by Fight for the Future and OpenMedia which can be found here and here, respectively.
This week in California digital rights and labor activists appeared before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) at public hearings in Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego to warn that that the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint would to higher cell phone prices and worse plans for mobile phone users. The hearings come on the heels of a major DC scandal where T-Mobile executives were caught repeatedly staying at the Trump hotel while the merger awaited the president’s approval.
The hearings took place Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week and followed a new report from the CPUC’s Public Advocate’s Office warning that the merger would provide significant harm to California residents due to higher cell phone costs. Opposition to the deal is mounting and over 10,000 Californians have signed petitions opposing the deal. Signatures were collected by advocacy groups including Fight for the Future, Center for Media Justice, Common Cause, Demand Progress, and Free Press.
If the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint is approved, it will reduce the number of national mobile phone providers from four to three, which experts warn will lead to higher prices and worse offerings. Research on mobile markets from Europe shows the presence of a fourth provider is very important for prices, as countries with only three carriers pay twice as much for data as those with four.
Adrian Martinez, Membership Organizer at the Center for Media Justice and Los Angeles resident, stood before the CPUC at a hearing this week and said, “I am a T-Mobile customer, and am concerned about the impacts that this merger will have on poor people, communities of color, workers, and rural communities.” You can read their full statement here.
Earlier this month, Fight for the Future launched a new campaign platform to fight the T-Mobile / Sprint merger at https://www.thismergerwillmakeyourcellphonebillmoreexpensive.com/. So far over 15,000 people from across the country have taken action to oppose the deal. The deal is currently under review by the FCC and DOJ, who are expected to rule on the deal in the coming months.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, January 11, 2010 Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, email@example.com
Fight for the Future demands a federal investigation into carriers’ reckless misuse of user data and call on Congress to pass strong data protection legislation.
A disturbing report published earlier this week revealed that cell phone providers like AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile were selling access to customers’ location data. Since then, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon voluntarily announced they will end relationships with third party “location aggregators” in statements to the press. Sprint has so far failed to make a similar commitment.
Responding to this week’s news Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her) had this to say:
“The idea that a cell phone company is selling users’ location data with absolutely no way to opt-out is terrifying. Think about what a stalker, an employer, or a jealous ex could do with access to this kind of information. It’s great that the carriers are promising not to sell access to their users’ location data anymore, but we need more than pinky-swears; T-Mobile CEO John Legere made a promise just like this in June and was just caught breaking it. We’re glad to see that certain senators are speaking up about this but, given how much money Congress has taken from the telecom companies, we know they will only take action if we make them. We need a full-fledged federal investigation into what they’ve been up to and who they’ve put at risk. Congress needs to investigate what happened and make this practice illegal as soon as possible.”
Earlier this week, Fight for the Future launched an online petition demanding a federal investigation into this shady business practice, and is now calling on Congress to ban the sale of sensitive, personal information via strong data protection legislation.