July 23 event in Denver will launch multi-city roadshow featuring high profile performers and speakers to defeat dangerous, anti-democratic deal
DENVER, CO––Legendary guitarist Tom Morello (Prophets of Rage, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave), popular punk band Anti-Flag, Golden Globe nominated actress Evangeline Lilly (Lost, The Hobbit, Ant-Man), Denver-based hip-hop outfit Flobots, and buzzworthy bi-lingual rockers Downtown Boys will perform at a free concert in Denver at Summit Music Hall on Saturday, July 23rd to mobilize opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The event will kick off the Rock Against the TPP roadshow. Organized by Morello’s new label, Firebrand Records and digital rights group Fight for the Future, the roadshow features a nationwide series of activism-fueled music events designed to raise awareness about the dangers of the TPP and build opposition to the toxic deal that was negotiated in secret with hundreds of corporate advisors. The TPP has little to do with trade, but would provide multinational corporations with new rights and powers that threaten good paying jobs, Internet freedom, the environment, access to medicine, and food safety.
Additional Rock Against the TPP tour dates and line-ups in other cities will be announced in the coming weeks.
“Working people everywhere have had enough,” said Tom Morello, “The TPP is nothing short of a corporate takeover of our democracy. That’s why people are rising up to stop it. Corporate lobbyists want to sneak the TPP through Congress quietly; that means it’s time for us to get loud.”
“This fight against the TPP is not about right and left, it’s about right and wrong,” said Evangeline Lilly, “Whatever you’re passionate about, whether it’s human rights, internet freedom, climate change, or food safety, the TPP is a bad deal for humanity, and a threat to the future of democracy. The more people learn about the TPP, the less they like it. It’s our responsibility to sound the alarm, before it’s too late.”
The Rock Against the TPP Tour is being organized by Fight for the Future, the viral Internet freedom group best known for organizing the largest online protests in history against online censorship and in favor of free speech and privacy. Firebrand Records, the new social justice infused record label co-founded by Tom Morello and Ryan Harvey, is acting as the tour’s artistic partner. The roadshow is sponsored and co-organized by a diverse coalition of groups fighting against the corporate power grab that is the TPP, including Citizens Trade Campaign, Communications Workers of America, CREDO, Demand Progress, the International Labor Rights Forum, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club, and the Teamsters.
Additional performers for the Denver kick-off include Firebrand Records artists Ryan Harvey, Lia Rose, and Son of Nun, Puerto Rican vocalist Taina Asili, and riot-folk singer / Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer, the tour’s lead organizer. Speakers from a broad coalition of organizations opposing the TPP will address the crowd, explaining the many dangers posed by the agreement.
“The TPP is not a trade deal, it’s a corporate coup––an attack on the future of democracy and free speech,” said Evan Greer, “people from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose it, and we’re going to fight not only to stop the TPP, but to make sure that decisions that affect all of us are never made behind closed doors in the future.”
About Tom Morello: Incendiary rock guitarist and acoustic troubadour Tom Morello, known for his innovative guitar solos and thunderous chords, is a groundbreaking artist whether in his solo career or as an original member of the rock bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, two acts responsible for multiple Grammy Awards and a combined 30 million albums sold worldwide. He’s released four solo albums as The Nightwatchman and formed the band Street Sweeper Social Club with Boots Riley of The Coup in 2009. Morello has also been recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the “100 Greatest Guitar Players of All-Time (#26).” Morello has produced or collaborated with artists of diverse genres including WuTang Clan, Johnny Cash, Tool, John Fogerty, Anti-Flag, Public Enemy, Joe Strummer, Crystal Method, Calle 13, Dave Mathews Band, Johnny Cash, Linkin Park, Travis Barker and Pete Seeger. In addition, he joined Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band for their 2014 world tour in support of Springsteen’s studio album High Hopes (Columbia Records) on which Morello is featured on eight tracks. Most recently, Morello has joined forces with fellow Rage Against The Machine bandmates Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, as well as Cypress Hill’s B-Real and Public Enemy’s Chuck D and DJ Lord to form the band Prophets of Rage. The group came together as a politically charged response to 2016’s tumultuous election year and after three sold-out club shows announced the launch of a 35-city trek across North America this summer.
About Evangeline Lilly: Evangeline Lilly is an actress best known for her role as Kate Austen in LOST and films including The Hurt Locker, Real Steel, The Hobbit and Ant-Man. Evangeline is also a cross-genre writer, who writes for multiple demographics, and is a published author of her children’s book series, The Squickerwonkers. With a background in International Relations and Political Science, Evangeline has long held a passion for social justice and is a strong advocate for Fight for the Future - and for democracy.
About Anti-Flag (performing an acoustic set): After more than 20 years writing smash hits about smashing the state, ANTI-FLAG has cemented themselves as the premiere political punk band around with an unparalleled ability to write high-energy, riffy, fist-pumping, sing-along anthems that never lose sight of the band’s anti-war, anti-imperialism, pro human rights ethos. Equal parts circle pit and picket line, their blistering and earnest live show brings a sense of community to the stage that unites people of all backgrounds and struggles.
About the Flobots: Denver, Colorado’s revolutionary hip-hop act Flobots bring it on real with their signature anthems dedicated to creating a better world. Since forming in 2005, Flobots have released three full length albums, toured throughout the US and Europe, and appeared on late night programs including The Tonight Show and Late Night. Flobots are internationally known for their 2008 platinum single “Handlebars” and widely recognized for using their music as an inspiration for social change.
About Downtown Boys: Downtown Boys are a bilingual political sax punk party from Providence, Rhode Island in the northeast United States. Rolling Stone called them “America’s Most Exciting Punk Band” and NME has declared them a Band to Watch in 2016. They write songs about smashing the prison-industrial complex, racism, queerphobia, capitalism, fascism, boredom, and all things people tell us that try to close our minds, eyes, and hearts. The band is known for their live performances, which are equal parts punk show, political rally, and religious revival. Frontwoman Victoria Ruiz delivers moving speeches between songs, working the crowd into an angry but hopeful frenzy. The songs themselves are delivered with an earnestness, fun, and intensity that’s stunned audiences on their tours throughout North America.
About Fight for the Future: Fight for the Future is a non-profit with more than 1 million members dedicated to defending and expanding the Internet’s transformative power for good. They’re best known for their vibrant, viral campaigns, and for organizing the largest online protests in history against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against mass surveillance. Last year, the group drove tens of thousands of phone calls and emails to Congress opposing the TPP through its StopFastTrack.com coalition page. They also made headlines for flying a 30 foot blimp opposing the TPP over Senator Ron Wyden’s town hall meetings in Oregon. Fight for the Future conceived of the Rock Against the TPP effort, and are leading the organizing of the tour, with support from a wide range of public interest groups, labor unions, and grassroots volunteers.
About Firebrand Records: Firebrand is a bold new project from Ryan Harvey (Riot-Folk) and Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage) dedicated to the global release and distribution of radical, socially conscious music. In recent years, people around the world have surprised each other with their courage, strength, and willingness to stand against injustice, militarism, and corruption. And where there has been protest, there has been music. Born from these times, Firebrand gives a platform for such voices. We know that music alone does not change the world, but we recognize that it is an integral part of the movements that do.
The DC Circuit has decided in favor of net neutrality in U.S. Telecom Association v. FCC. This cements a decisive victory for the millions of people, companies, websites, and organizations who worked together to secure strong protections for the open Internet against one of the biggest lobbies in the United States.
WASHINGTON––The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s use of the legal authority behind its Open Internet Order today. The decision comes after a long-fought battle between major telecommunications services and millions of open Internet advocates from across the political spectrum.
Fight for the Future, the prominent digital rights group best known for their role in spearheading the massive online and offline net neutrality protests, including sit-ins in front of the FCC and the Internet Slowdown which broke a one-day comment submission record to the FCC, celebrates this dramatic victory. The Battle for the Net campaign, spearheaded by Fight for the Future, lead to over 4 million public comments submitted to the FCC, setting a new record for public engagement in a FCC proceeding. The campaign also generated more than 10 million emails to Congress, and 500,000 calls to Congress and the FCC.
Fight for the Future and many other civil rights and digital rights groups mobilized millions of people and thousands of companies to call on the FCC to use their legal authority to enact the most legally-defensible and strongest protections for net neutrality, which required the reclassification of ISP’s as Title II Telecommunications services. The FCC, headed by Chairman Tom Wheeler, voted for the Open Internet Order in February 2015. The US Telecommunications Association brought a suit against this order shortly after. Now, over a year later, the DC Circuit has decided in favor of the FCC. The group’s representatives issued the following statements about today’s historic victory:
“In 2015, startups, investors, activists, academics, policymakers, and millions of individuals joined together in agreement that net neutrality was vitally important, and that Title II was the best, most legally sound way to do it.” said Holmes Wilson, co-founder of Fight for the Future. “Now, the courts agree with us too. This victory means that people all over the world can rely on smart policies in the US to protect the Internet as a platform for freedom of expression, economic growth, and social change.”
“The people have spoken. The courts have spoken. Cable giants like Comcast need to get over it and start actually providing great Internet service—not mounting these sneaky attacks in Congress, using lobbying dollars to turn Congress against the will of the people,” said Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer.
“Today, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit confirmed what Fight for the Future and our allies have argued for years: The Federal Communications Commission has the power to apply the strongest powers it has in the interest of guaranteeing an open and free Internet.”
“This is the largest victory against monopolies this decade. Big telecom lost the number one handout they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying for over the last ten years,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, Co-Director of Fight for the Future. “They were able to skirt net neutrality rules by successfully lobbying the FCC to pretend they’re not monopolies or telecommunications services. After four million people and thousands of companies worked tirelessly to show that this handout was bad for everyone but the ISPs, we were able to defeat one of the biggest and fiercest lobbies in the US. This watershed victory is testament to the ability of people to organize using the Internet against corruption and the status quo.”
Now, all eyes turn towards Europe, where a coalition of activists and policy experts rallying as SaveTheInternet.eu are in the final weeks of a years-long push for net neutrality rules covering the entire European Union. These coming weeks will determine whether European regulator BEREC matches or surpasses the US rules, or whether they fall short in the face of strong lobbying pressure from powerful European telecoms. Right now, BEREC has an open public consultation that runs until July 18th (analogous to the FCC comment periods which drew millions of submissions.) Fight for the Future will work with EU activists to launch a massive day of action to deliver hundreds of thousands of public comments to BEREC.
Additionally, the FCC is currently developing rules for zero rating plans, in particular. The FCC’s Open Internet Order allowed an examination of zero ratings programs on a case by case basis. A letter from companies and organizations and 100,000’s of people has been sent to the FCC calling for an open process to examine these plans, including programs such as Comcast’s preferential treatment for their own content, or AT&T and Verizon’s program that exclude paying websites from data caps.
Concerned Internet users and digital rights supporters gathered on Friday 6 June at the headquarters of the Austrian Telecom Regulator in Vienna (RTR, Mariahilferstraße 12-14, Vienna). This meeting helped to kick off a public consultation on net neutrality in the European Union that starts today and ends on July 21, 2016.
The fight for net neutrality has moved from the United States, Brazil, India and now on to the European Union. As net neutrality policies are being decided around the world, what happens in the EU will have a major influence on how the US will deal with zero rating programs, which effectively create fast lanes for web content that pay against data caps, and on net neutrality policies that are being decided now in countries that have yet to have a similar fight.
“People are rallying in Vienna to defend the internet in the upcoming EU net neutrality rules. The public interest and the public voice must be heard.” said Thomas Lohninger, privacy activist at the civil liberties organisation AKVorrat. “Net neutrality is what has made the Internet thrive and grow all over the world, and the European union cannot lag behind. If we allow telecoms to treat Internet traffic differently based on who can pay, we will create an Internet with fast lanes and slow lanes, stifling free speech and innovation. If the rules are passed, we could be shutting down the next best invention for the world without even knowing it.”
Protesters opposed proposals to weaken net neutrality rules, holding "Save the Net” signs and unfurling a slow lane across the square to demonstrate what the Internet will be like for the “have-nots” in the future, along with traffic signs that read 56kb/s for everyone except paying corporations.
The rally was organized by several civil society organisations in Austria, including Netzfreiheit, AKVorrat, Wikimedia Austria, Open Knowledge Austria, and other advocacy organizations.
For the latest on upcoming events: SavetheInternet.EU
“The fight for net neutrality has arrived in Europe and we can’t stand to lose protections for it. People care deeply about this issue and are even showing up in person to protest bad loopholes for telecoms,” said Lohninger. “The whole world is watching EU’s ability to pass strong policy in the face of heavy industry lobbying, and people will be standing up in the coming days to make sure that doesn’t happen. We won’t allow the EU to turn out to be more lobbyist friendly on this key issue than the US or India.”
“Because of the importance of the EU as a market, if we lose meaningful net neutrality there it will have a huge impact globally, both on the policy process in other countries but also on the course of the Internet itself. If the rules give an edge to big established sites with the ability to make special deals (e.g. Google and Facebook) that makes those sites harder to compete with, globally, and it will tilt the Internet’s future in the direction of big corporations”, said Holmes Wilson, Co-Director of Fight for the Future.
Fight for the Future is a digital rights nonprofit with more than 1.4 million members that works to defend the Internet as an open and powerful platform for freedom of expression. They are best known for organizing the largest online protests in history against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against government surveillance. Learn more on twitter or at FightForTheFuture.org.
As Congress begins discussion of Section 702, groups have united against the warrantless surveillance powers of that law, tipping debate towards its expiration.
WASHINGTON –Today Fight for the Future and a bipartisan coalition of public interest groups launched end702.com, a site calling for the expiration of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, absent a full reform, in order to prevent warrantless mass surveillance of Americans. Section 702 is currently scheduled to sunset on December 31, 2017.
With Congress beginning hearings on the Section 702 program, including a Senate Judiciary hearing that was held in May, groups from the left and the right have come together in recent months to make their position clear—there can be no renewal of Sec 702 unless warrantless surveillance of Americans’ private lives is stopped. With growing skepticism across the US that Congress will be capable of passing a legitimate reform that protects the privacy and security of Americans, these groups are getting behind a sunset of the provision as the only realistic acceptable outcome.
Congress has been under pressure to address the government’s bulk collection of communications data after clandestine NSA surveillance programs, operating under the expanded definition of Section 702, were revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden three years ago today. Now that the expiration of Section 702 is approaching, Congress will be forced to address how the provision has been used against US residents and be counted in history as either continuing unprecedented warrantless mass surveillance or finally ending the law that enables it.
“Now that we know how the government has abused the surveillance laws, Congress must start their review of Section 702 from where most Americans and organizations on the left and the right stand—the constitutional right of everyone to not be warrantlessly surveilled. If 702 in any form doesn’t meet that mark, it has no place for continuation,” said Fight for the Future co-director Tiffiniy Cheng.
Coalition members include Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Defending Dissent Foundation, Restore the Fourth, Human Rights Watch, Access Now, American Civil Liberties Union, Government Accountability Project, Calyx, Roots Action, X-Lab, Arab American Institute, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Campaign for Liberty, Niskanen Center, Fight for the Future, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“The government’s mass surveillance is changing the way we as a society act,” said Sean Vitka, legislative counsel with Fight for the Future. “It is changing how we think and interact with the world. We must not allow the surveillance state to continue changing who we are, and that means ensuring that the Section 702 we know today expires.”
“Since the Snowden revelations, polls and studies have shown that people care deeply about their privacy and security, have been self-censoring themselves, and have changed their behavior. As data and privacy become a business liability, and as more people are targeted for their race or religion based on this data, the government’s programs on mass surveillance are becoming so politically toxic, most members of Congress or the White House will be embarrassed for supporting it.” said Tiffiniy Cheng.
The Snowden disclosures revealed how the government has expanded the authority that Congress intended to provide in Section 702 to allow for the warrantless surveillance of millions of Americans and billions of people around the world. Under this law, intelligence agencies have collected Internet communications as they pass through the network to reach their destination without a warrant. Despite Section 702’s clear intention of allowing surveillance of persons “other than United States persons,” these agencies also claim the legal authority to search specifically for Americans within these enormous databases of information without a warrant.
For years, members of Congress and public interest groups have called for information about how deeply intelligence agencies penetrate into the private lives of Americans, and they have recently reupped their demands for more information. Intelligence agencies and the Department of Justice have not revealed how the government is using its mass surveillance powers. Without such information, the people and Congress cannot determine the benefits or the costs of the programs that the government claims are authorized under Section 702, much less determine how to fix their many problems.
Mass surveillance has already had profound negative effects on American society. Pew Research Center recently found that 30 percent of American adults have taken steps to hide their online activity from the government. Another study, published in Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly, found that government surveillance is causing self-censorship of dissenting opinions. Further research indicates that government surveillance has caused writers to increase their self-censored and individuals to stop researching controversial issues.
Many people and activists have asked us about how FFTF is effective at online campaigning. So we’re launching a first draft of a FAQ on the topic, in the hope that it’s helpful. We decided to focus in this post on the first part of political debate – connecting people in the digital age to the policymaking process itself.