Yesterday, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai gave a speech lashing out at net neutrality supporters from web companies to celebrities. The speech comes amid the backdrop of massive and growing public backlash to Pai’s proposal to gut Title II net neutrality protections, with more than half a million phone calls to Congress through BattleForTheNet.com in the last week, and hundreds of protestsplanned across the country on December 7. Many have noted outragecoming from conservatives, libertarians, and members of Pai’s own party.
Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer (pronouns she/her) issued the following statement in response to Pai’s comments:
“Ajit Pai’s lies are becoming more and more desperate. He’s trolling celebrities because he knows he has no substantive argument to quell the growing backlash to his extreme proposal.
Pai’s comments about web companies like Twitter make absolutely no sense. Killing net neutrality will further concentrate power on the Internet into the hands of the few largest companies that can afford to pay. Anyone concerned with large web platforms limiting free speech should support net neutrality protections, which allow startups and small businesses to compete with the big guys, and ensure that Internet users have choices.
Ajit Pai’s plan won’t stop companies like Twitter and Facebook from engaging in censorship. Instead, it will explicitly allow companies like Verizon and Comcast to engage in censorship, and it will let large platforms like Facebook or Google pay them to squash small competitors. Pai’s distortion of the facts here can only be described as Orwellian. He’s citing free speech as his reason for gutting free speech protections.
Still, we have to admit Pai is smart: when old allies in telecom oblige you to introduce a plan the entire country hates, mocking celebrities and saying a bunch of random BS is probably the best option.”
Fight for the Futureis a digital rights group known for their role in organizing the largest online protests in history including the SOPA Blackout, the Internet Slowdown, and the July 12 Internet-Wide Day of Action for Net Neutrality.
Susan Collins (R-ME) opposition signals trouble ahead for the agency as GOP Senator joins with two other Maine lawmakers in bi-partisan opposition to FCC plan
The Bangor Daily News is reporting that Maine Senator Susan Collins is the first GOP member of Congress to publicly oppose the agency’s plan to end net neutrality. Republican members of the House and Senate have been silent since FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced a December vote to repeal Title II net neutrality. Since Tuesday morning Congress has heard unprecedented public outcry with net neutrality activists driving nearly 450,000 calls to Congress through the BattleForTheNet.com campaign.
“Internet providers must not manage their system in an anti-competitive way that limits consumers’ choices,” a spokesperson for Senator Collins told the Bangor Daily News, explaining the Senator’s opposition to the FCC’s plan.
Responding to today’s news, Evan Greer, Campaign Director for Fight for the Future (pronouns she/her) had this to say:
“We would like to thank Senator Collins for having the courage to speak out against the FCC’s extreme plan to gut Title II net neutrality protections, and we hope to see more Republican lawmakers join her call for the FCC to protect, not gut net neutrality before the agency’s December 14th vote. Senator Collins clearly recognizes that businesses and Internet users across this country simply cannot afford to be unprotected from anti-competitive practices perpetrated by the nation’s broadband giants. An overwhelming majority of Republican voters support existing net neutrality rules. Other GOP lawmakers should follow Senator Collins lead, listen to their constituents about this crucial issue, and take action to stop the FCC’s irresponsible rush toward a vote.”
Since Chairman Pai’s announcement earlier this week, we have seen a huge outpouring of support from across the country. In the last 72 hours, nearly 450,000 calls to Congress have been generated by concerned Internet users through BattleForTheNet.com alone, and today’s announcement shows that citizen pressure is working. When enough people speak up, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have to sit up and take notice – and that’s exactly what we’re seeing happen today.”
Angry Internet users will demand that members of Congress oppose Verizon-controlled FCC’s attack on the open web
Internet users outraged by Verizon-lawyer-turned-FCC-Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to gut net neutrality are planning more than 700 protests at Verizon stores and Congressional offices in all 50 states today, December 7th, one week before an expected vote at the FCC.
Yesterday, a group of 150+ prominent artists endorsedthe protests including Michael Stipe (REM), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Alyssa Milano, Wil Wheaton (Star Trek), Amanda Palmer, and Graham Nash.
The protests will highlight Verizon’s role lobbying to kill rules that prevent telecom giants from charging extra fees, engaging in censorship, or controlling what Internet users see and do through discriminatory throttling. Protesters will carry signs calling on their members of Congress to speak out against Verizon’s attacks on net neutrality and publicly oppose the FCC’s plan, which is expected to be released this week.
The original call for protests included only about a dozen cities, but so many people stepped up to organize them that there are now more than 600 on the map.
The December 7 protests represent growing grassroots backlash to the FCC’s plan, which polls show is wildly unpopular with people from across the political spectrum. The events 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, three of the groups behind the massive July 12 net neutrality day of action that drove millions of comments, emails, and phone calls to the FCC and Congress. Over recent months the 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. A phone call campaign through BattleForTheNet.comhas generated nearly 800,000 phone calls to legislators offices.
At the protests participants will be encouraged to take a group photo and tweet it at their local members of Congress. Where possible, protesters will march to a nearby lawmaker’s office and deliver petition signatures.
Protests are currently planned in Phoenix, Denver, San Francisco, New York City, Indianapolis, Miami, Boston, Seattle, and hundreds of other cities and towns across the country. They’re being organized by volunteers in a grassroots manner using email, texting, and social media. Local Internet users can volunteer to host a protest, and then connect with other volunteers in their area and encourage them to attend.
“This is the free speech fight of our generation and Internet users are pissed off and paying attention” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents. The corrupt bureaucrats trying to kill net neutrality are hoping to avoid public backlash by burying the news over the Holiday weekend. We’re taking our protest from the Internet to the streets to make sure that doesn’t happen,” she added.
“While FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been busy meeting with industry lobbyists and greedy Verizon executives, he should not ignore the millions of people who are joining together to reject his plan to kill off Net Neutrality,” said Free Press Action Fund Field Director Mary Alice Crim. “People in almost every state across the country have been meeting with hundreds of members of Congress and their staff, organizing others in their communities, and speaking out on behalf of the open internet. They know that the open internet is essential for accessing everything from elder care to mental health services and they’re willing to fight for it. This momentum of popular support for Net Neutrality will spill into the streets beginning Dec. 7 as people protest Pai and his corporate cronies outside Verizon stores nationwide. Our message to Pai and Verizon is clear: people everywhere will not sit idle as you destroy the free and open internet.”
“Americans are sick and tired of lawmakers placing the profits of monopolistic companies like Verizon and Comcast above the interests of ordinary people,” said Mark Stanley, Director of Communications for Demand Progress. “Outside Washington, support for strong net neutrality is widespread, regardless of political affiliation. Now, with what would be a catastrophic vote by the FCC to repeal net neutrality looming, people are ready to take to the streets in protest and to offer Congress one last chance to answer the question: ‘Do you stand for your constituents’ ability to communicate and connect, or do you stand for Verizon’s bottom line?’”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture
Adam Schiff (D-CA), Angus King (I-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA) targeted by online campaign from Fight for the Future
Digital rights group Fight for the Future has launched a new online campaign at DemocratsForAFascistDystopia.org, humiliating “progressive” lawmakers who are supporting legislation that reauthorizes Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, a law that the U.S. government abuses to conduct mass warrantless surveillance, including of U.S. citizens. Even worse, all of these members have opposed fixing the “backdoor search” loophole, through which the government searches specifically for U.S. persons without a warrant.
“We are Democratic lawmakers who believe that the best future for our children is an Orwellian dystopia where governments have absolute control over their citizens’ thoughts and actions through pervasive mass surveillance. That’s why we support the reauthorization of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act,” the page mockingly states, listing Congress members Adam Schiff (D-CA), Angus King (I-ME), and Mark Warner (D-VA) as “members” of a faux organization, “Democrats for a Fascist Dystopia.”
Under the heading ‘Our Mission,’ the page continues: “Our goal is to reauthorize Section 702, which would let Donald Trump - and any future president - engage in warrantless monitoring and mass collection of Internet and telephone communications.”
A “Who we are” section of the site pairs real quotes from each lawmaker about Donald Trump with satirical endorsements of Trump’s potential use of Section 702 surveillance powers.
“Mass surveillance doesn’t work. It’s not about public safety—it’s about government control,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, the group behind the page. “In these times it’s unconscionable for any lawmaker that claims to care about free speech or human rights to support the reauthorization of warrantless surveillance of Americans under Section 702,” she added.
Fight for the Future is encouraging its 1.4 million+ members to oppose any legislation that reauthorizes Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act without closing the backdoor loophole. If Congress fails to secure this necessary minimum, supported even by Senator Feinstein, a long-time surveillance hawk, members of Congress should let this unconstitutional law expire at the end of the year..
Yesterday afternoon the House subcommittee that provides Congressional oversight for the FCC held an important hearing about the agency’s current plans, including current Chairman (and former Verizon lawyer) Ajit Pai’s move to gut Title II net neutrality protections that prevent ISPs from controlling what we do online with throttling, censorship, and extra fees.
With Capitol Hill’s attention now on the FCC, and Pai’s final plan to gut net neutrality protections expected in the coming weeks, it’s extra important that Congress gets flooded with phone calls from Internet users telling them to stand up and defend the open Internet.
Ajit Pai is expected to circulate the text of his rule killing net neutrality on November 22, the day before Thanksgiving. Once that happens, it will move to a vote at the FCC’s open meeting in December, and it will become much much harder to stop him.
It’s clear that the FCC remains set on killing net neutrality. But Congress can stop the FCC from gutting the rules that keep the web open, affordable, and awesome.