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.
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?’”