Los Angeles, CA -– Net Neutrality supporters launched a crowdfunding pageWednesday to collect donations to put up a giant billboard in the district of California Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, who became internet infamous last week for eviscerating the California net neutrality bill SB 822, leaving it full of loopholes demanded by ISPs. Before the amendments, SB 822 was the only state level bill to restore all of the net neutrality protections that FCC repealed on June 11.
Santiago, who counts AT&T and other ISPs among his top donors, is the chairman of the Communications and Conveyance Committee. In an extremely undemocratic hearing last week, he used his powers as chair to force a vote on his hostile amendments, refusing to allow testimony or public comment before the vote.
The billboard campaign is backed by Fight for the Future, a digital rights group with more than 350,000 members in California.
“It’s honestly a shame that we have to expend our members’ energy and resources fighting a California Democrat like Miguel Santiago, who should be representing his constituents and supporting real net neutrality legislation rather than listening to lobbyists from AT&T, one of his top donors,” said Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Fight for the Future. “Unfortunately, Assemblyman Santiago is acting just like California’s own Ajit Pai. He says he supports net neutrality while actively working to dismantle it. He needs to fix the harm he caused, and this crowdfunded billboard will ensure that his constituents know what he is doing in their name.”
California State Senator Scott Wiener, the original author of SB 822, has said that he is working with Santiago in an attempt to restore the crucial protections that were stripped from the bill. Fight for the Future hopes that Santiago helps restore all the protections and that the billboard will prove unnecessary, in which case the funds raised with be used for other net neutrality activism.
In an unprecedented move, the California Assembly’s Committee on Communications and Conveyance just bucked standard procedure and railroaded through a vote to amend net neutrality bill SB 822 by adding gaping loopholes asked for by ISPs like Comcast and AT&T, who are a top donor to the committee Chairman, Miguel Santiago.
In the committee hearing, Senator Scott Wiener, the bill’s original author, stunned by the Chairman forcing a vote before the hearing had even started, said that with the new amendments the bill was now “mutilated” and “a fake net neutrality bill.”
The forced vote on the Amendments passed 8 - 2, with 4 Democrats joining 4 Republicans to eviscerate SB 822, making them the first Democrats to actively help the Trump administration dismantle net neutrality.
“The level of corruption we just witnessed literally makes me sick to my stomach,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights group with more than 350,000 members in California. “These California democrats will go down in history as among the worst corporate shills that have ever held elected office.Californians should rise up and demand that at their Assembly members represent them. The actions of this committee today are an attack not just on net neutrality, but on our democracy.”
These Assembly members voted to gut the bill: Santiago, Garcia, Low, Quirk-Silva, Cervantes, Rodrigues, Maienschein, Kamlager-Dove
These voted against: Obernolte, Mathis
Despite thousands of phone calls from constituents, and letters from Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep Anna Eshoo, Chairman Santiago’s amendments to SB 822 will leave the bill gutted and:
* Allow ISPs to charge websites and small businesses “access fees” just to reach their customers, and block any website or service that doesn’t pay the fee.
* Allows ISPs to circumvent net neutrality protections at the point where data enters the network. Thus, instead of blocking a website as it is transported over the ISP’s network, the ISP can just block it as it enters the ISP’s network
* Allows ISPs to throttle entire classes of applications, (e.g. all online gaming or all online voice calls). Remember that AT&T was previously busted blocking iMessage
* Allows ISPs to Zero-rate their own content, ie AT&T can incentivize you to watch CNN, which they now own, or Comcast can make it free for you to go to NBC’s website while making you use your data to get your news elsewhere.
* Allows ISPs to charge services fees in exchange for zero-rating them, giving large corporations a huge unfair advantage over startups and small businesses.
There is good news for net neutrality coming out of California today, where two State Senators have combined their bills, SB 822 and SB 460, ahead of a key hearing this Wednesday before the Communications and Conveyance Committee. AT&T and other ISPs have been pouring money into lobbying and spreading misinformation, and were attempting to kill both bills by playing them against each other.
The combined bills leave all critical net neutrality protections intact, and if passed would set a gold standard for state-level open Internet legislation across the country. But telecom monopolies are still pushing hard to kill or water down the bills at the hearing this Wednesday, and contacts on the ground in Sacramento indicate that the committee chairman Miguel Santiago is being heavily lobbied by ISPs to do just that.
“It’s unthinkable that California Democrats would even consider weakening an extremely popular net neutrality bill in the immediate wake of the FCC’s attack on our Internet freedom,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights group with more than 350,000 members in California. “The free and open Internet is essential for every social movement combating corruption and authoritarianism. California Assembly members need to listen to their constituents, small business owners, and community groups – not AT&T’s lobbyists. The whole Internet is watching.”
Today, the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality officially goes into effect, but the battle for the free and open Internet is just beginning. Fight for the Future, the small but fierce digital rights group behind the largest protests in Internet history, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Deputy Director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
“Hold the obituaries. Net neutrality is not dead. Ajit Pai’s absurd repeal of basic free speech protections is the most unpopular decision in the history of the FCC, and it will not stand. The Senate already passed a historic bipartisan resolution disapproving the repeal. Now the entire Internet is laser focused on getting the House of Representatives to do the same.
Starting today, there is nothing legally preventing companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from arbitrarily censoring entire categories of apps, sites, and online services, or charging Internet users expensive new fees to access them. Ajit Pai’s order hands our Internet providers complete control over everything we do on our phones and computers, from where we get our news and information about the world, to how we listen to music and stream video.
Cable and phone companies won’t start misbehaving right away, because they know they’re being watched. But over time, unless net neutrality is restored, the Internet as we know it will wither and die. The web will be dominated by a handful of the largest platforms who can afford pay to play fees, squeezing out independent voices and innovative ideas. We’ll lose all the cool, weird, controversial, and unexpected stuff that makes the Internet awesome, and one of the most important tools we have to combat tyranny and expose corruption.
People are pissed off. And rightly so. The gutting of net neutrality is a symbol of our broken democracy. It’s the worst of the worst that the DC swamp has to offer. But it has sparked an unprecedented backlash from across the political spectrum, and Internet users are coming out of the woodwork to fight tooth and nail in Congress, in the courts, and at the local and state level.
This summer we’ll channel our anger productively and harness the power of the Internet to mount an unprecedented district-by-district campaign to get Congress to do their job and reverse the FCC’s outrageous repeal. The Internet is coming for net neutrality. There is nowhere to hide. Any lawmaker, of any party, that fails to sign the discharge petition in support of the CRA will regret it come election time. ”
* The Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to overrule the FCC and restore net neutrality with a simple majority vote in both the Senate and the House.
* Poll after poll shows that the overwhelming majority of voters, including Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, oppose the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality
* There have been nearly 20 million emails and phone calls to Congress driven through the website BattleForTheNet.com alone (run by Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press Action Fund)
* Tens of thousands of major websites, apps, and online communities have risen up in a series of massive online protests
* Internet users have organized hundreds of protests, in-person meetings with lawmakers, and other events calling on lawmakers in all 50 states to support the CRA to restore net neutrality
* More than 6,000 small businesses, ranging from farmers to chiropractors to tech startups, have signed on to an open-letter calling on Congress to reverse the FCC repeal, and dozens have participated in business delegations
* Fight for the Future has played a leading role exposing serious issues of fraud and abuse that plagued Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal process, which has sparked investigations from Congress, major news outlets, and the Government Accountability Office.
* Hundreds of popular musicians, artists, and celebrities have lambasted the FCC repeal, including Cher, Chance the Rapper, Alyssa Milano, Mark Hamill, Michael Stipe, and Tom Morello
Fight for the Future is a small but fierce digital rights group best known for organizing many of the largest online protests in history, from the SOPA blackout to Reset The Net to the Red Alert for Net Neutrality. Learn more at https://www.fightforthefuture.org or follow us @fightfortheftr
Internet activist groups who have rallied millions to contact their lawmakers plan to kick off summer offensive with mass online actions the day FCC repeal goes into effect
Today, net neutrality supporters announced plans for mass online actions on June 11th, to coincide with the date that the FCC’s resoundingly unpopular repeal will go into effect. The groups behind BattleForTheNet.com, a site that millions have used to contact their lawmakers in support of an open Internet, issued a strong warning to lawmakers: sign the discharge petition and support the CRA resolution to block the repeal before its effective date, or become the target of a fierce summer activism campaign including ad buys, in-district protests, small business pressure, and a river of angry constituent phone calls.
Earlier this month, the Senate voted 52-47 in a historic upset to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution disapproving of the FCC’s gutting of open Internet protections. More than 170 representatives have already indicated their support for the same resolution in the House. 218 signatures are needed in order to force the CRA resolution to the floor, increasingly within reach following the bipartisan vote in the Senate.
Net Neutrality protections have broad bipartisan support among voters across the country. An April 2018 University of Maryland poll showed 82 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats oppose FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s decision to repeal the Title II open-internet protections his predecessor put in place. Several other public polls show a consistent pattern of support among Republicans, Democrats and independents.
June 11th will serve as the kick-off for intense campaigning focused on House lawmakers, who will be under tremendous pressure to support the CRA ahead of the midterm elections, given that voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support restoring the rules.
“People are going to be pissed off. Really pissed off. And rightly so. It’s hard to imagine a more clear example of how our democracy is broken,” said Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Fight for the Future, “We’re going to harness the power of the Internet to ensure that people have a way to channel that anger productively. Any lawmaker, of any party, that fails to sign the discharge petition in support of the CRA will regret it come election time.”
“Few policies coming out of Washington in recent years have been as universally opposed as the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality,” said Demand Progress Communications Director Mark Stanley. “Poll after poll makes this clear, and grassroots energy in support of the CRA resolution to reverse the FCC remains at peak levels. An army of telecom lobbyists have worked overtime on Capitol Hill to turn net neutrality into a partisan issue. Despite these efforts, a bipartisan majority in the Senate voted to pass the CRA resolution. Now it’s up to Representatives to follow suit and overturn the FCC’s disastrous repeal of net neutrality, which will cut off small businesses’ ability to reach customers, harm rural communities that lack choice in internet providers, and negatively impact all who rely on an open internet for news, speech and entertainment.”
“This will be one of the biggest showdowns of the summer in the House,” said Free Press Action Fund Campaign Director Candace Clement. “For constituents everywhere Net Neutrality is non-negotiable. Our elected representatives can either side with the people and support the CRA or with the cable and phone lobby. Activists and advocates in every district are already turning up the heat on anyone who sells out their constituents to line the pockets of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. Keeping *the* internet open is critical for us. It powers social movements, and provides a global platform for people of color, LGBTQ folks and the most marginalized communities to tell their own stories, run their own businesses and route around powerful gatekeepers.”