New billboards in Nebraska slam Rep Jeff Fortenberry for putting ISPs ahead of constituents, while Colorado ads thank Rep Mike Coffman for defending net neutrality.
Today digital rights group Fight for the Future unleashed four new crowdfunded billboards across Nebraska targeting Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) for attempting to fool constituents by cosponsoring symbolic net neutrality legislation, which has no chance of passing this Congress, but refusing to sign on to the CRA resolution, which has already passed the Senate, and is the viable way for lawmakers to restore protections this year. The billboard notes that Fortenberry has taken nearly $100,000 in campaign contributions from telecom companies.
The group also unveiled a new billboard in Denver, CO thanking Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) for showing political courage by becoming the first GOP member of the House to sign on to the discharge petition for the CRA. The billboard highlights an open letter signed by hundreds of Colorado small businesses, and thousands of businesses nationwide, calling on Congress to pass the CRA to restore net neutrality protections as quickly as possible.
The five billboards come as members in the House of Representatives return to their home districts for the August congressional recess.
The CRA is the only measure that can restore meaningful net neutrality rules during this Congress. It recently passed the Senate in a historic bipartisan vote of 52-47, including support from GOP Senators Murkowski (AK), Collins (ME) and Kennedy (LA). It’s companion in the House currently has 177 signers including Rep Coffman.
Anew pollconducted by IMGE Insights shows that net neutrality will influence a majority of voters in the upcoming election cycle. Fight for the Future has promised to crowdfund billboards targeting lawmakers who sponsor alternative net neutrality legislation without also signing the CRA to restore strong protections as soon as possible.
“Congress needs to know that they can’t hide from this issue, or attempt to fool their constituents by supporting symbolic net neutrality legislation without also signing on to the CRA, which is the only viable way to restore these crucial protections this year,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/hers), “Small businesses and Internet users can’t afford to be left without protections from power-hungry ISPs while a tech illiterate Congress debates this issue and turns it into a partisan football match. This is not complicated: any lawmaker who doesn’t support the CRA is helping kill net neutrality, and we’re going to make sure their constituents know they were sold out in exchange for campaign checks from Big Cable.”
Below are the locations of each billboard:
* Denver, CO: 2251 South Parker Rd, 200’ north of Iliff Ave on the west side facing south.
* Lincoln, NE: On North 27th avenue just north of Fairfield Street
* Lincoln, NE: On North 70th street just north of I-34.
* Lincoln, NE: 4738 Normal Blvd west of South 48th Street
* Lincoln, NE: Intersection of Old Cheney Rd and South 56th Street
The billboards targeting Congressman Fortenberry read:
“REP FORTENBERRY BETRAYED NEBRASKA. He took $99,850 from telecom companies and refused to sign the CRA to restore strong net neutrality protections. Ask him why: 402-438-1598.”
Source for campaign contribution figures: The Verge.
The billboard thanking Congressman Coffman reads:
“THANK YOU REP COFFMAN FOR DEFENDING NET NEUTRALITY
Congressman Mike Coffman stood up to Big Cable and fought for Colorado businesses and Internet freedom by signing the CRA. BusinessesForNetNeutrality.com”
Congress must pass CRA to reverse illegitimate repeal
Fight for the Future has repeatedly debunkedthe FCC’s dubious claims that their public comment site was hit with two separate DDoS attacks that allegedly occurred at the exact same time that large numbers of pro net neutrality comments were flooding the system following John Oliver’s viral TV segments on the issue. Yesterday, the agency finally admittedthat those DDoS attacks were completely fabricated. Today, the internal Investigator General’s report provides even more detail, showing that FCC leadership, including Ajit Pai, knew that the DDoS attack was bogus, and that the FBI had changed their focus from looking into an alleged cyber attack to investigating false statements made to Congress by the FCC.
Fight for the Future issued the following statement, which can be attributed to deputy director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
“Ajit Pai should resign. These new revelations from the FCC’s internal investigation are a smoking gun. They clearly show that the FCC chairman knew months ago that there had never been a cyber attack on the FCC’s comment system, but did nothing, allowing the false narrative to spread in a cynical attempt to downplay the overwhelming opposition to his attack on net neutrality.
Fight for the Future providedthe FCC with proof debunking this invented cyber attack more than a year ago, including screenshots of our own logs and other technical information. Thousands of people signed petitions calling on the FCC to provide proof of the attack. The agency ignored us, and decided instead to lie to Congress and the public. They never reported the alleged “cyber attack” to US CERT, the proper authorities,, because they knew one had not occurred. They mischaracterized to Congress conversations that did eventually occur with the FBI.
Under Ajit Pai’s leadership, the FCC sabotaged its own public comment process. From ignoring millions of fraudulent comments using stolen names and addresses to outright lies about DDoS attacks that never happened, the agency recklessly abdicated its responsibility to maintain a functional way for the public to be heard. Pai attempts to blame his staff, but this happened on his watch, and he repeatedly obstructed attempts by lawmakers and the press to get answers.
The repeal of net neutrality was not only unpopular, it was illegitimate. We now know the truth: a DDoS attack didn’t take down the FCC’s website. Millions of people speaking out against Ajit Pai’s repeal of net neutrality did. Congress must act now to pass the CRA resolution to reverse this decision and restore basic protections for Internet freedom.”
Facebook announced with much fanfare yesterday that the company had scrubbed 32 pages and accounts that they suspected “were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior.” But as it turns out, an event sponsored by one of the pages they deleted was for a perfectly legitimate and permitted protest being organized by local activistsin Washington, DC. According to the organizers, the event page was deleted because one one of the co-hosts was a page that Facebook suspected of being “inauthentic.”
The event had attractedthousands of interested Internet users, and has now been effectively squashed by Facebook’s purge, just weeks before the protest, giving organizers little time to regain momentum.
“Arbitrary mass censorship is not the solution for the challenges democracy faces in the digital age,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, “Calls for more censorship, whether they come from the left or right, pose a dangerous threat to legitimate freedom of speech and undermine the power of the Internet as a tool for people to organize, educate themselves, and challenge tyranny and corruption. Do we really want an Internet where giant tech companies like Facebook are the arbiters of what is ‘real’ and what is ‘fake’ and can censor whatever they want without oversight or accountability?”
“Dragnet censorship operations, whether related to copyright or political content, always come with serious unintended consequences, where legitimate content is taken down. Lawmakers who are concerned about the power that large tech companies have to spread misinformation should call for more transparency and more competition, not more censorship,” she continued, “One simple policy decision on the table right now is restoring net neutrality protections, which allow startups and small businesses to thrive and compete with giants like Twitter and Facebook, leading to more decentralization that makes coordinated misinformation campaigns much harder.”
Facebook has previously been exposed censoring content by groups on both the left and the right, as well as by marginalized communities. Fight for the Future condemns Facebook’s decision to censor a legitimate protest page because of a link to a single “inauthentic” account, and calls on the platform to cease any similar censorship plans, and instead focus on transparency initiatives to make it easier for Internet users to know who is paying for the content they’re seeing.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2018 Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, firstname.lastname@example.org
Organizations collectively representing more than 7 million people have collected over 300k signatures and will deliver to Microsoft CEO
A growing coalition of advocacy groups representing more than 7 million people are demanding that Microsoft cancel their contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and stop providing operational support for violence against immigrant families.
Earlier this year, Microsoft boasted online that Azure, a cloud computing service with deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification, was “mission critical” to ICE. Amid disturbing reports of widespread human rights abuses by ICE agents, including family separation and sexual assault, more than 300,000 people have signed petitions launched by Color Of Change, Mijente, Demand Progress, Sum Of Us, Fight for the Future, Center for Media Justice, Free Press Action Fund, MPower Change, Daily Kos, CREDO Action, Jobs With Justice, Presente.org and The Nation.
The coalition will hold a joint press conference and petition delivery at the Microsoft Redmond campus on July 26, 2018 to show solidarity with over 500 employees at Microsoft who have signed an open letter to CEO Satya Nadella expressing concern that the products of their labor are being used for violence against migrants and calling for an end to the contract. There will also be solidarity protests at Microsoft stores and offices across the country on July 26th.
Leaders from this coalition of organizations issued the following statements:
“Microsoft is providing a technological foundation for ICE’s work. They play a huge part in the ongoing family separation horror” said Jelani Drew, campaigner at Fight for the Future who launched this campaign. “It’s time for Microsoft to stop simply making statements condemning the violation of human rights, and start actually live by their word.”
“Microsoft is complicit in profiting from a violent mass incarceration and deportation scheme,” said Scott Roberts, Senior Campaign Director at Color Of Change which launched this petition. “No child belongs in a cage, tent city, or juvenile detention center at any time or in any place. The act of separating and detaining families would not be possible without the massive bureaucratic and logistical machine behind it. It is not enough to simply speak symbolic words against these acts. Microsoft must take action in the one way that will make an actual impact, canceling the contract. We will hold any corporation accountable for their role in advancing Trump’s violence against our communities, and we will not stop they until heed the call of thousands of tech workers and people directly impacted by this crisis.”
“As long as Microsoft maintains its contract with ICE, they remain complicit in the brutality and racism of ICE. The company is gaining millions of dollars while families of color are torn apart and children sleep in cages. In the face of such inhumanity, the choice for Microsoft, and the many other tech companies which still work with ICE, is simple: They can either provide the infrastructure that supports the Trump administration’s destruction of our communities or they can take responsibility— following the lead of their own employees —and cancel their contract.” - Steven Renderos, Campaign Director, Center for Media Justice
“While ICE is keeping children in cages and dragging their feet on reuniting families, Microsoft is not only enabling ICE, they’re profiting off this human misery. Activists and Microsoft’s own employees have joined the rallying cry, ‘It’s time to divest from ICE,’” said Reuben Hayslett, a campaigner at Demand Progress. “There’s still time for CEO Satya Nadella to stand on the right side of history by not just denouncing ICE and its policies, but canceling their contract with ICE and refusing to outfit their operations with cloud computing services.”
Coworker.org has been conducting trainings and providing support for people in the tech industry who want to take action on workplace issues. Yana Calou of Coworker.org says “What we’re seeing in the tech industry is that, despite company efforts to downplay the scope and impact of government contract, employees remain very concerned about their companies’ roles in providing infrastructure for ICE and other agencies. At Microsoft, employees want answers – they still do not have basic internal transparency around the company’s ongoing projects, and they’re asking their company to lead on this human rights issue by canceling their contract with ICE.”
“Despite Microsoft’s supposedly progressive values, the company lends data and artificial intelligence capabilities to help ICE track down undocumented immigrants in their places of work, schools, and homes,” said Emma Pullman, lead campaign strategist at SumOfUs. “ICE is the same government agency responsible for tearing children as young as 3 months old away from their families and detaining them. And while Microsoft may defend itself by saying the company is not directly responsible for family separation and family detention, they are still helping ICE tear families apart. Microsoft executives need to take responsibility for their role in these egregious acts.”
“The technology Microsoft provides to ICE enables a cruel deportation machine that violates human rights,” said Free Press Action Fund Campaigner Lucia Martínez. “Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella must act with conscience and cancel Microsoft’s contract with ICE. He must stand in solidarity with his employees, hundreds of thousands of people across the country, and immigrant families that have been separated under ICE’s inhumane policy.”
“Caging children is a crime, not a business model. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, who continues to defend their contract with ICE will go down in history not as compassionate titan of industry, but as a profiteer. Tech executives either fail to grasp the power they have to stop this deportation machine or are too enticed by future riches to stop it.” said Marisa Franco, co-founder of the Latino activist organization Mijente. “That machine requires many gears to turn. If thousands more tech employees stand together with immigrant activists — if tech executives feel more internal pressure, while activists apply ever more external pressure — then we can bring the deportation machine to a grinding halt.”
“If Microsoft is truly morally outraged by ICE’s actions, it must walk the walk and stop profiting off of Donald Trump’s mass incarceration and deportation agenda,” said Nicole Regalado, campaign manager with CREDO Action. “Nadella has tried to brand himself as a CEO who puts 'empathy at the center of everything.’ This is his chance to prove it. Microsoft must cancel its contract – now.”
“Tech companies can no longer ignore the negative impacts of their work,” said a volunteer with Tech Workers Coalition. “Many social ills are exacerbated by the cutting-edge services they choose to sell to bad actors. The point shouldn’t be to pour charity onto those ills, it should be to evaluate whether or not work that is taken on by the company contributes to human suffering.”
“Hey, Satya Nadella, where do you want to go today? Will you continue your Faustian deal or be on the side of your values, workers, and customers? This is a torture-for-profit racket. Tech companies who support the inhumane policies of the Trump Administration have lost their moral compass and will be held responsible for the violence and suffering they accelerate and profit from,” said Matt Nelson, Executive Director of Presente.org. “No company should be in the business of caging children and families. If Microsoft continues down this treacherous, soulless path, it will lose the trust of thousands of its employees and millions of consumers.“
Nebraska Congressman claims to support an open Internet, but refuses to sign CRA resolution that would restore it
Digital rights group Fight for the Future has released a mock-up and launched a crowdfunding page to put up as many billboards as possible in the district of Rep Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), who just insulted his own constituents and small business owners in Nebraska by cosponsoring symbolic net neutrality legislation that can’t pass this Congress while refusing to sign on to the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to reverse the FCC’s repeal––which already passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
A new poll released yesterday shows that wide margins of voters in battleground districts will strongly consider where a lawmaker stands on net neutrality when deciding who to vote for in midterm elections, making Rep Fortenberry’s decision not to support the CRA not only hypocritical but potentially very damaging heading into election season.
“Jeff Fortenberry betrayed you,” reads the billboard design, “He took $99,000 from ISPs and put them ahead of Nebraska businesses and Internet users.” It then provides his district office phone number and encourages viewers to call and ask why he won’t support the CRA to restore net neutrality.
“Representative Fortenberry must think his constituents are fools,” said Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Fight for the Future, “It’s insulting to ignore the overwhelming majority of voters, and thousands of small businesses, and pretend to support net neutrality while refusing to do the one thing in your power to save it. Politicians in Congress need to understand that Internet users are pissed off and paying extremely close attention. They won’t be fooled and they won’t be placated by empty actions. If Rep Fortenberry truly supports net neutrality, he should sign on to the CRA resolution to restore it. If not, we’re crowdfunding billboards to make sure his constituents know that he sold them out.”
Fight for the Future plans to put up as many billboards as possible in Rep Fortenberry’s district based on crowdfunding. If Rep Fortenberry does the right thing and signs on to the CRA, the funds will be used for billboards targeting other lawmakers who claim to support net neutrality while refusing to do anything to protect their constituents from ISP abuses.