Angry Internet users protest in hundreds of cities at Verizon stores and Congressional offices in all 50 states today
Self-organized Internet users are gathering at Verizon stores and Congressional offices in more than 700 cities throughout the day today demanding that Congress take action to #StopTheFCC vote planned on December 14 to gut net neutrality protections. Dozens of protests have already happened while many more are planned for this evening. The protests are part of growing backlash to the FCC’s plan from across the political spectrum, which has generated more than 800,000 phone calls to lawmakers through the site BattleForTheNet.com alone.
(This link will be updated with more photos as they come in. Most of the largest protests are expected to happen at 5pm local time.)
On the heels of today’s ground protests, net neutrality supporters are calling on Internet users, websites, apps, and small businesses to participate in “Break the Internet,” an online protest starting 48 hours before the FCC’s scheduled vote, where sites, apps, and social media feeds will appear creatively “broken” as they might be without net neutrality protections, with messages driving phone calls to Congress. Twitter users will “break” their feeds by using a #BreakTheInternet tool that will auto-tweet about net neutrality every 10 minutes starting on December 12 until the FCC votes.
The protests today are supported by Team Internet, a grassroots network of nearly half a million volunteer activists spearheaded by Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and Free Press Action Fund. The groups allowed volunteers to “host” protests and added them to a map, using text messaging and email to help local hosts recruit participants in their area.
Protesters are demanding that their members of Congress publicly call on the FCC to cancel their vote on December 14. The FCC’s plan containsan unprecedented and total repeal of net neutrality protections, posing a grave threat to the future of freedom of expression, access to information, and small businesses particularly for communities of color and low income communities.
Over recent monthsthe groups behind the protests have organized thousands of constituents to attend more than 600 town halls and meetings with lawmakers to demand their support for net neutrality.
“Today’s protests show how passionately Americans care about net neutrality, and how fed up they are with lawmakers siding with giant telecoms over ordinary people,” said Mark Stanley, Director of Communications for Demand Progress. “With a catastrophic vote to repeal open internet protections just a week away, people across all 50 states are taking to the streets and urging lawmakers to oppose FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to end net neutrality.”
“This is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. Internet users from across the political spectrum are outraged, and they’re coming out of the woodwork to demand that their elected officials do their jobs and stop the FCC from voting to kill net neutrality,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “The Internet has given ordinary people more power than they’ve ever had before, and what we are seeing today is that people are willing to fight to defend that power.”
“The fate of the internet won’t be decided by a few corrupt bureaucrats and phone company lobbyists in Washington,” said Free Press Action Fund Field Director Mary Alice Crim. “That’s the message people across the country are sending today to Chairman Pai: Our rights to connect and communicate online must come before the greed of Verizon executives. These protests prove beyond any doubt that people everywhere won’t let Pai and his cronies have the last word on Net Neutrality.”
Tom Morello, Incubus, Evangeline Lilly, Bassnectar, Against Me!, Alyssa Milano, Michael Stipe (REM), Wil Wheaton, Talib Kweli, Gramatik, Graham Nash, The Glitch Mob, Downtown Boys, Speedy Ortiz, Anti-Flag among signers
More than 150 prominent artists, musicians, and actors have signeda letter endorsing the hundreds of protests planned for tomorrow at Verizon stores and Congressional offices nationwide. The artists echoed the protests call for Congress to take action to stop the FCC’s planned vote to kill net neutrality protections on December 14.
REM singer Michael Stipe, Star Trek actor Wil Wheaton, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, EDM legend Bassnectar, actress Evangeline Lilly(Lost, The Hobbit, Ant Man), rock band Incubus, punk stars Against Me!, hip hop icon Talib Kweli, Dresden Dolls songwriter Amanda Palmer, EDM favorites The Glitch Mob, classic rock hero Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), Colin Hay (Men At Work), actress Alyssa Milano, and Ian Alexander(Netflix series The OA), are among the signers, along with Downtown Boys, Speedy Ortiz, STS9, Anti-Flag, Atmosphere, Priests, Trackstar the DJ (Run the Jewels), Kimya Dawson, author Cory Doctorow, Algiers, and dozens of others.
“If the FCC votes to gut these protections it will explicitly allow Internet providers to charge extra fees that amount to a tax on the entire creative economy,” the letter reads. “A few corporations will have control over what you see and hear, while independent and up-and-coming artists’ ability to make a living will be devastated. Without net neutrality there will be less awesome art. Period.”
The letter goes on: “We support the people from across the political spectrum protesting across the country on December 7, and we echo their call for our members of Congress to do their jobs and take action to stop the FCC vote that’s planned for December 14.”
“A free and open Internet, adhering to the foundational principles of Network Neutrality, has allowed business to flourish, revitalized industries, and given voice to marginalized people not only in America, but around the world. There is no reason to change this standard now, except for corporate greed,” said actor Wil Wheaton (Star Trek, Big Bang Theory), “Allowing ISPs to engage in pay-for-play traffic prioritization will stifle innovation, silence voices, and lead to censorship online. I call on all Americans to support Network Neutrality.”
“Net neutrality is what keeps the Internet weird and awesome,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who is also a touring musician, “Without it, a few giant corporations will have unprecedented control over the culture we create and consume, and independent and alternative artists will be silenced. That’s why we’re fighting back.”
The medium that allows us to be great artists is under threat. Without a free and open internet, so much music, writing, film, art, culture, passion, and creativity would be lost.
For the artists of the future, and the culture of the future, we will not be silent.
Title II guarantees net neutrality and prevents powerful telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon from deciding what art, as well as what news, is easily accessible online.
If the FCC votes to gut these protections it will explicitly allow Internet providers to charge extra fees that amount to a tax on the entire creative economy. A few corporations will have control over what you see and hear, while independent and up-and-coming artists’ ability to make a living will be devastated.
Without net neutrality there will be less awesome art. Period.
The open Internet lets artists reach each other and audiences across the world in unprecedented ways. We are able to collaborate, learn, improve our worlds, participate in our society, and bring the things we love to people who are moved by them.
Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are guaranteed by our constitution, and we demand that such freedoms continue online. Net Neutrality is essential to our democracy.
We support the people from across the political spectrum protesting across the country on December 7, and we echo their call for our members of Congress to do their jobs and take action to stop the FCC vote that’s planned for December 14.
By fighting for net neutrality, you fight for the future of art.
Adam Venable / Obeah Adel Alizadeh Against Me! Alfre Woodard Algiers Alyssa Milano Amanda Levie Amanda michelle Amanda Palmer Andrew Lee Andrew Woolford Andy Farnsworth Anti-Flag Arvin Clay Ashlee Voorsanger Atmosphere Bassnectar Brandon Schell Brett Eidman Brian Baron Bronwyn Isaac Bug Martin Buku Callowhill Camille Theobald Candiss Veree Carla Anderson Charlie Hunter Chloe Herry Chris Leed CloZee Colin Hay Cory Doctorow, author Craig Mahoney Darby Thomas Darla Jean Patterson Debra Castellano Dina Losito Doug Appling pka Emancipator Downtown Boys Elise-Ann Konstantin Eva Mozena Brandon Evangeline Lilly Flobots Frankiepace George Sluppick Graham Nash Gramatik Greg Radin Gregory Joseph Heather Maloney Howard Lester Ian Alexander Incubus Iris Creamer James Finn Javelin Jaye McBride Jeff Hysen Jeffrey Joseph Jen Lap Jessica Brodkin Jim Mendrinos Joe Velez Joey Novick Jon Yeager Josh Clauson Joshua T. Bell Jude Treder-Wolff Kevin Barnett Kevin D. Williams Kimya Dawson Kyle Holly Leah Bonnema Lesa Noelle Lili Roquelin Lisa Curry Liz Barrett Liz Larkin Liz Miele Lori Nemec Lucie Steiner Lynn Bixenspan Margaret Dodge Maria Minerva Marie Corfield Mark Anthony Ramirez Matthew Ismael Ruiz May Wilkerson Melissa Rocha Michael Austin Smalley Michael Carsillo Michael Stipe, artist/musician Michi Muzyka Mike Sasson Missy G Mo Vida Nat Towsen Neko Nicholas Allred Nick Cara Nikki Clark Nikki2holes Pauline Murphy Peter Michael Marino Priests Probcause Psymbionic Rachel Green Ralph Attanasia Richard Chartier Rocco Romeo Roderick Spencer Sachi Ezura Sammus Sarah Doneghy Scott Blakeman Seena Ghaznavi Speedy Ortiz Stephen Saffel STS9 Summer Dawn Reyes Suzanne Lawrence Suzy Exposito Talib Kweli Terry Klein Tessa Rochon The Blow The Glitch Mob Thomas Cappel Tiffy DiGiacomo TJ Del Reno Tom Morello TRACEY Carnazzo Trackstar the DJ Trophy Wife Tyler rothrock wendy liebman Whitness/Chill Mickelson Wil Wheaton Yarineth Pena Zain Zaidi
Verizon-lawyer-turned-FCC-Chairman Ajit Pai is speakingat Verizon Headquarters in Washington, DC tomorrow – just days before a planned vote to gut net neutrality protections that Verizon has lobbied to kill.
The following quote can be attributed to Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her):
“This is the kind of corruption that turns your stomach. This is why people are protesting at hundreds of Verizon stores and Congressional offices across the country on Thursday, and why more than 750,000 people have called Congress through BattleForTheNet.com. Ajit Pai is an embarassment to his own party and under his leadership the FCC has made a mockery of our democratic process. With a rogue FCC commissioner blatantly captured by the industry he is supposed to provide oversight for, Congress must do their job and take action to stop the FCC vote on December 14.”
Yesterday’s Pew Research study led to incorrect reports
Yesterday, the Pew Research Group released a studythat triggered a number of new reports about issues within the FCC’s net neutrality comment docket. The Pew study, unfortunately, contained a number of serious inaccuracies, and lacked needed context in a way that conflated legitimate grassroots advocacy and organic online outrage with malicious attempts to manipulate the FCC docket with fraud.
“The FCC sabotaged its own public comment process for the exact purpose of sowing the type of confusion that we’re seeing now,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “They knowingly allowed malicious actors to abuse their system and submit enormous numbers of fraudulent comments using real people’s names and addresses without their permission, and they’ve refused to cooperate with investigations or transparency laws.”
She continued, “Their goal is to obscure the fact that the overwhelming majority of people from across the political spectrum oppose Ajit Pai’s extreme proposal to gut net neutrality protections. All you have to do is look at the unique comments in the docket that people took the time to draft by hand: almost 99% of them support existing net neutrality protections. Congress must take action now to demand the FCC cancel its planned vote on December 14. It’s unconscionable that the agency would move forward with such a controversial proposal while so many allegations of serious fraud and abuse surround their rulemaking proceeding.”
Here are some key things that the Pew study got wrong:
The original Pew study claimed that there had only been 450,000 comments during the FCC debate in 2014. There were closer to 4 million. Pew has since corrected this error after we brought it to their attention, but they have not addressed the points below.
The Pew study claims that comedian John Oliver promoted our net neutrality advocacy site BattleForTheNet.com – to our knowledge that is incorrect. During his viral net neutrality segment, John Oliver directed viewers to his own page: GoFCCYourself.com
The study casts suspicion on legitimate comments using the text from BattleForTheNet.com, noting that 476,000+ were submitted at the same time on July 19. That’s because these comments were submitted as a CSV using the FCC’s “bulk upload” option, a perfectly legitimate way to submit comments to the agency, and in fact the one that the agency encouraged groups to use. Pew never asked us about this, or we would have been happy to provide them with the records of this.
The study claims that the large bulk of comments came from “a small number of organizations,” and points to BattleForTheNet.com as an example. However, this is a mischaracterization of what the site is. It’s an Internet-wide coalition effort that has been promoted by dozens of public interest organizations, hundreds of startups, and thousands of websites, apps, and online communities who participated in the July 12 day of action and other campaigns.
Overall, the study fails to give readers needed context to understand the difference between a legitimate comment submitted through a site that provides a concerned constituent to add their name to a default statement, and comments that were submitted using real people’s names and addresses, likely stolen from breached databases, without those people’s permission or knowledge. The study seemed to be unaware of the various ongoing investigations surrounding this issue – including a law enforcement investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office. By failing to include essential information about the comments they analyzed, the Pew study offers a distorted view of what’s happening in the net neutrality docket.