A key California Senate committee released its analysis of SB 822, California State Senator Scott Wiener’s bill to comprehensively restore the 2015 net neutrality protections that the FCC voted to abolish in 2017. The analysis is a frontal assault on net neutrality. Sadly, the analysis from the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications looks like ISPs wrote it and shows that ISPs have a powerful corrupting influence even in the Democratic-controlled legislature in California.
“It’s outrageous that California democrats would produce a document that looks like it was literally written by lobbyists for AT&T and Comcast. They’re calling for giant loopholes that would gut SB 822 and leave California residents vulnerable to ISP scams and abuses,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights group with more than 350,000 members in California, “These senators need to know that the entire Internet is watching them, and will not forget if they side with giant telecom monopolies over the basic rights of their constituents.”
The legislative analysis, which comes a day before the bill’s hearing, recommends gutting key protections, opening up two huge and known loopholes that will allow ISPs to get around net neutrality protections.
Specifically the analysis finds that:
1) ISPs should be allowed to charge, block or slow down websites or services at the point of interconnection, where data that ISP subscribers request from online services enter the ISP’s network, and
2) That ISPs should be allowed to create all manners of zero-rating plans, including not counting data from an ISP’s own services against users’ data caps or charging online sites so that their data doesn’t count against user data caps.
- After the 2010 order came out, ISPs realized they could block, throttle and charge online services by simply not increasing the size of the pipes coming into their networks and waiting for online services to pay them to open them. That meant that the services that ISP subscribers wanted to use would simply not work or be very slow – despite paying their ISP to use any and all applications on the internet.
- This behavior was so widespread that it affected tens of millions of Americans who couldn’t understand why, despite paying for an expensive fast connection, they couldn’t telecommute or play League of Legends online. New York’s Attorney General is suing TimeWarner Cable for lying to subscribers by promising them fast online videos and gaming, while secretly making sure those services went slowly
- This slowness would stop only if online companies paid the ISP’s ransom. For those that refused to pay, it only stopped in 2015 when the FCC’s Open Internet Order said it would police interconnection agreements to make sure that ISPs weren’t using them to circumvent net neutrality
- Any net neutrality bill that doesn’t ban circumvention at the ISPs’ edges is not a real net neutrality bill.
Zero-rating is the practice of not counting some data against users monthly data caps. While there are some ways to do this without damaging net neutrality and hurting startups and speakers without deep-pockets, ISPs use this as a way to make the sites they own more attractive than competitors and to get paid by giant online companies who can prevent new competitors.
- The California bill struck a balance that allowed some zero rating, banned the worst kinds, and made others subject to scrutiny to make sure they didn’t distort competition and discourage startups and minority voices.
- This mirrors the FCC approach in 2015, where the FCC said it would look closely at such programs and was preparing to release a report on the practices after the 2017 elections. However, the new FCC chief Ajit Pai killed off that report.
- ISPs want no oversight of zero-rating and the California Committee appears to agree with Chairman Pai.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, April 12, 2018 Contact: Evan Greer, email@example.com, 978-852-6457
WASHINGTON, DC—Two days of Congressional hearings with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg left Internet users with many questions about security, privacy, and the ways that data harvesting can undermine democracy and basic rights. But they also made clear that we can’t trust Facebook to fix this problem on their own, nor can we trust Congress to make them fix it.
Many members of Congress displayed a lack of understanding of tech issues that would be comical if it weren’t so dangerous. Others, like the notoriously corrupt Rep Marsha Blackburn, who sponsored a bill to gut Internet privacy protections last year, pushed for disingenuous legislation backed by powerful ISPs. There were calls for censorship, talk of artificial intelligence, and many dodged questions.
The most important aspect of the hearings is what Mark Zuckerberg didn’t say. He proposed some cosmetic changes to Facebook’s practices, but they fall far short of the key steps outlined by tech and human rights experts at SecurityPledge.com. The pledge is a major new campaign led by groups like Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and the ACLU, calling on tech companies to take concrete steps to protect their users. The site asks Internet users to add their name to an open letter calling on tech companies to take the data security pledge and make needed changes to ensure their users’ data isn’t used against them.
“The Internet is at a turning point. We can’t wait for CEOs of big tech companies or politicians in Washington, DC to save us. Internet users need to come together to take back control of our data,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her), “There are very clear steps that companies can take to ensure that their products are not used for surveillance or to undermine democracy. We need to demand that they take those steps, and abandon services that refuse to do what is needed to protect their users.”
Organizations supporting the Security Pledge include 18 Million Rising, the ACLU, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Council, Color of Change, Coworker.org, Defending Rights & Dissent, Demand Progress, Free Press, the Government Accountability Project, OpenMedia, Presente, and SumofUs.
Tens of thousands of California residents and small businesses have called on senate committee to advance SB 822 bill to restore open Internet protections
California state legislators will make a decision this Tuesday, April 17, on whether to advance a net neutrality bill that has implications for the entire Internet. Lobbyists from monopoly Internet providers like AT&T are in a frenzy, doing everything in their power to kill the bill, SB 822 introduced by Senator Scott Wiener, in a committee hearing next week, before it even has the chance of a floor vote.
But net neutrality supporters are mobilizing en masse, calling on Committee Chair Ben Hueso and other state senators to advance the bill, which provides the best path to restoring urgently needed net neutrality protections for California residents and small businesses.
-More than 53,000 California residents sent letters to the Senate Energy committee calling on them to advance SB 822
-Nearly 200 small businesses in California have signed on to open letters here and here.
-Dozens of public interest groups like Fight for the Future, Color of Change, Greenpeace, Consumers Union, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, CREDO, and Daily Kos signed on to a letter calling on Committee Chair Ben Hueso to advance SB 822.
-Former FCC Commissioners Tom Wheeler, Michael Copps, and Gloria Tristani sent a letter to Senator Hueso in support of SB 822.
-The mayors of San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, Oakland, and Emeryville sent a letter in support of the bill.
-A group of 60 startups and high tech companies also signed a letter supporting SB 822.
SB 822 would be the most comprehensive net neutrality bill in the country, and will have implications beyond California, setting a strong precedent for other states and Congress to take action to defend Internet users and small businesses in the wake of the FCC’s overwhelmingly unpopular repeal of open Internet protections.
“Telecom lobbyists are freaking out about this because it’s a great bill, and they know it will pass if it gets a floor vote, given that voters overwhelmingly support net neutrality,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights group with more than 350,000 members in California, “State Senators need to know that the whole world is watching them, and if they cave to pressure from some of the most hated corporations in the country, they’ll be forever remembered as enemies of the free and open Internet.”
Thousands of small businesses will deliver a letter to Congress during national Small Business Week on May 2nd
Thousands of small businesses, ranging from construction companies to tech startups are planning to deliver an open letter to Congress on Wednesday, May 2nd calling on lawmakers to support the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to block the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. Small business owners will host delivery events at congressional offices across the country, where they will deliver the letter and complete list of signers, and host a short press conference about the impact of losing net neutrality on small businesses.
To date, nearly 3,000 businesses have signed the letter since it began circulating, including veterinary offices, graphic design shops, restaurants, medical startups, music venues, attorneys, tutoring services, chiropractors, engineering firms, and an amusement park machine supplier. Businesses are being listed publicly on the letter in a rolling fashion as they are verified. More details about the May 2nd delivery events will be announced in the coming days.
The nationwide deliveries are supported by a range of groups representing startups and small businesses including the American Sustainable Business Council, Engine Advocacy, Etsy, Main Street Alliance, Good Business Colorado, and Small Business Majority, along with digital rights nonprofit Fight for the Future.
“The loss of net neutrality will hurt all small businesses, not just high tech ones like those I work with,” said Chris Reade President and CEO of Lookfar in New Orleans, LA, “Without these basic protections, businesses that put food on the table for hard working Americans won’t be able to compete with big corporate giants.”
“My small business has been able to grow in part because of net neutrality. Strong rules have ensured people can find me and shop my online store,” said Mickki Langston, owner of Tellicherry Trading Company, maker of skincare products in Denver, CO. “Small businesses like mine will be hit the hardest if Internet service providers decide to charge us new fees to reach customers. Everyone in Washington says they support small businesses. I want them to show us that they support small businesses by supporting the CRA.”
“Our small Alaska-based technology business depends on affordable access to an open, neutral Internet to deliver training, software updates and data to customers around the state,“ said Julie Olsen, President of OfficeTECH, Inc. in Anchorage, AK. "We need lawmakers to just say “NO” to deep pocketed ISPs plans for fast lanes online and, instead, vote to protect Alaskan businesses and their employees by supporting the CRA resolution to overturn the FCC’s repeal and put strong net neutrality protections back in place.
“Almost everyone who works at Fight for the Future has run a small business at one time in our lives, and we’ve connected with thousands of them through the massive online protests we’ve organized,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, who helped coordinate the letter, “without net neutrality, the largest companies will become even more dominant, while family owned businesses, innovative startups, small shops, and freelancers will be squeezed out. It’s a tax on the entire economy for the benefit of a few giant telecom companies.”
Tech and legal experts propose concrete steps companies can take to ensure their products are not used to undermine democracy
A group of prominent privacy, civil liberties, and human rights organizations have launched SecurityPledge.com, a major new campaign calling on tech companies to take concrete steps to protect their users in the wake of widely reported abuses like the harvesting and manipulation of Facebook data conducted by Cambridge Analytica. The site asks Internet users to add their name to an open letter calling on tech companies to take the data security pledge and make needed changes to ensure their users’ data isn’t used against them.
“Tech companies need to change,” reads the headline on the site, backed by the 18 Million Rising, the American Civil Liberties Union, Demand Progress, Coworker, Color of Change, Fight for the Future, and Sum of Us, grassroots groups that represent millions of people. The pledge outlines a detailed set of technological and policy commitments that tech companies must make in order to “ensure the Internet is used to expand democracy, not undermine it.”
Limit the amount of data they collect in the first place, and give users control over how it is shared.
Offer end-to-end encryption by default to ensure that users’ communications are protected from corporate and government surveillance
Provide users with full transparency about what data is collected, how it is used, and what measures are in place to prevent it from being abused.
Support legislation and policy reforms that limit government access to user data except with a warrant and judicial oversight.
The organizations behind the campaign will encourage users to flock to services that have taken these steps and avoid those that haven’t until they do.
“The internet can be made a tool for transformational change for the better,” said David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress, “but it can also be used for the extraction of sensitive private information and manipulation towards the benefit of large corporations or for social control by governments. The major online platforms are facing a reckoning: How they respond in this moment will help determine whether the utopian vision that inspired so many internet pioneers and users stands a chance of becoming a reality, or whether companies will ignore the public interest turn the internet against its users towards the end of private benefit.”
“This is a watershed moment for the Internet,” said Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her), Millions of people now understand how their data can be weaponized and used against them, and they are demanding change. Cambridge Analytica is just the tip of the iceberg, and this problem doesn’t begin and end with Facebook. If the largest tech companies take the steps outlined in the security pledge, it will change the course of human history for the better, and protect billions of people’s basic rights.”
“It’s time that companies take steps to ensure that using their products doesn’t mean that users have to sacrifice their rights,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel. “The way companies treat data can affect whether you are wrongly excluded from job or housing ads because of your gender, targeted for dubious financial products, or have your security compromised. Many companies have for too long ignored their obligation to treat data responsibly, prevent information from being used to discriminate, and provide users’ full control over how it is handled.”