Net neutrality advocates are preparing crowdfunded billboards to target two California Assemblymembers who are rumored to be among the few Democrats considering helping ISPs like AT&T and Comcast sink the net neutrality bill SB 822 by introducing hostile floor amendments on Friday.
The potential ambush of SB 822 comes amidst widespread public outcry following reports that Verizon throttled service to firefighters battling the worst wildfire in the state’s history. The now repealed FCC net neutrality rules would have provided the possibility of redress for the fire department. SB 822 would allow the State Attorney General to investigate such incidents.
The bill cleared a key committee hearing yesterday and is how headed for a final vote on the Assembly floor. But sources in Sacramento say that ISP lobbyists are launching a desperate last-ditch attempt to stop SB 822 by getting Democrats (many of whom they make large campaign contributions to) to side with Republicans and force a vote on hostile floor amendments to rip out key protections in the bill. Due to parliamentary rules, the only day they could actually succeed with this plan is this Friday.
SB 822 is widely regarded as the best state-level net neutrality bill in the country. It just passed a crucial vote in front of the same committee where it was unceremoniously gutted last month at the behest of ISP lobbyists. This time the bill passed with the blessing of the committee chairman Miguel Santiago, who has become an ardent supporter of the bill after facing massive public outcry and the threat of crowdfunded billboards in his district.
If the bill avoids a last-minute knife in the back on Friday, it will head to a final vote on the Assembly floor, likely next week. If it passes on the floor it will head back to the Senate, which will need to vote on the updated version of the bill.
UPDATE: California net neutrality bill SB 822––widely regarded as the best state level net neutrality bill in the country––just passed a crucial vote in front of the same committee where it was unceremoniously gutted last month. In early June, at the behest of ISP lobbyists, the Communications and Conveyance Committee eviscerated the bill by ripping out key protections in a vote on amendments that was held even before testimony was heard.
Today the bill headed back to the committee to approve amendments that restore those protections - this time with the blessing of the committee chairman Miguel Santiago, who has become an ardent supporter of the bill after facing massive public outcryand the threat of crowdfunded billboardsin his district.
The bill was advanced by the committee, and will now head to a final vote on the Assembly floor, likely next week. If it passes on the floor it will head back to the Senate, which will need to vote on the updated version of the bill.
Fight for the Future, a leading net neutrality group with hundreds of thousands of members in California, issued the followings statement, which can be attributed to Deputy Director, Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her):
“SB 822 is now one step closer to becoming law.
Let me say this in no uncertain terms: any California legislator who stands in the way of net neutrality will regret it for the rest of their political career. The whole Internet is watching. Honestly it’s ridiculous and a bit embarrassing for the Democratic Party that net neutrality activists have had to fight so hard to get this bill passed in a state with a supermajority of lawmakers from a party that professes to love the free and open Internet.
It shows the stranglehold that monopolistic ISPs like AT&T have over state legislators, bought and paid for with campaign contributions and fancy golf outings with lobbyists. This juxtaposed with the very real impact of these companies’ greed on Californians––including the story that broke yesterday showing Verizon throttled the connection of firefighters battling the state’s wildfires.
SB 822 is the best darn state level net neutrality bill in the nation. Passing it should be a no-brainer for the California legislature. This is a test of our democracy.”
New DropSalesforce.com campaign targets company with crowdfunded bus ads near its headquarters in San Francisco, calls on speakers and vendors to pull out of flagship Dreamforce conference
Today, Fight for the Future launched a website that targets Salesforce and the tech company’s contract with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The digital rights group is crowdfundingto run prominent advertisements on commuter buses in San Francisco in the immediate vicinity of Salesforce Headquarters ahead of its flagship yearly conference, Dreamforce.
DropSalesforce.comalso features: an open letter signed by dozens of organizations, many of whom are threatening to join a boycott if the company does not cancel the contract, as well as a tool that allows human rights supporters to tweet at speakers who are scheduled to appear at Dreamforce, calling on them to pull out of the conference if Salesforce does not do the right thing.
“Salesforce is helping Border Patrol violate human rights,” read the bus ads that will frequent downtown San Francisco, “Don’t work for them. Don’t use their products. Don’t go to their conference.”
“Salesforce prides itself on being a socially aware and responsible company, but they are showing otherwise by refusing to drop their contract with a government agency that has and is clearly violating human rights” said Jelani Drew, campaigner for Fight for the Future, “In history, tech has been used to drive the human suffering, oppression, and tragedy. It’s time for Salesforce executives to pick which side of history to be on and what they want their legacy to be.”
Since the news broke of Salesforce’s multimillion dollar Border Patrol contract, activists across the country have protested, employees have organized, and a steadily growing coalitionof organizations that are Salesforce customers have called on the company to cut ties with CBP. Salesforce has refused, made excuses, and attempted to sweep the issue under the rug.
In response, RAICES, one of the nation’s leading immigrants rights groups, recently refused a $250,000 donation from Salesforce, and Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters pulled outof catering their conference. The pressure will only continue to increase in the coming weeks.
This morning FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his fellow Commissioners appeared before the Senate Oversight Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the heels of revelations that the FCC lied to Congress about a supposed “cyber attack,” which was alleged to have happened just as millions of John Oliver viewers were attempting to file pro-net neutrality comments with agency. A recently released internal FCC report sheds light on internal agency system failures that caused the website to crash, not a cyberattack.
The following statement can be attributed to Sarah Roth-Gaudette, Fight for the Future’s Executive Director:
“Under fire from Senators this morning, it’s hard to say what Pai did faster: talk, or throw his staff under the bus. Today removed any doubt that Ajit Pai will be remembered as one of the worst FCC Chairs in U.S. history, and he should resign immediately. When pressed on exactly how long he knew the FCC’s alleged cyber attack was fake, Pai shrugged and said his hands were tied. Sorry Chairman Pai, but refusing to take responsibility doesn’t cut it for us or the American people you serve.”
“Chairman Pai’s bogus claim that the sky has not fallen since net neutrality was repealed is at best naive and at worst intentionally misleading. With a vote to overturn the repeal passed in the Senate and pending in the House, and 23 Attorneys General suing the FCC over it, Internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T aren’t going to restructure the entire Internet while the heat is on.”
“Today Pai admitted he knew that the alleged cyber attack was bogus months ago. No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, you should be completely outraged. We provided the FCC with proof that the DDoS attack was totally made up months ago, yet the agency still lied to Congress and failed to escalate the issue to the proper authorities. If this isn’t clear evidence of an agency sabotaging its own process to reach a predetermined outcome, then I don’t know what is. What is clear is this: the FCC’s net neutrality repeal is not only undemocratic, it’s illegitimate. And Congress must reverse it by passing the CRA as soon as possible.”
National groups ACLU, CREDO Action, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and Free Press Action Fund—which have a combined eight million members—are submitting a single-question questionnaire to Congressional incumbents and their challengers to gauge support for the discharge petition to force a vote on the net neutrality CRA
Today, national advocacy groups ACLU, CREDO Action, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and Free Press Action Fund are submitting a single-question questionnaire to 38 representatives and their challengers in the upcoming midterms.
The questionnaire poses the following to incumbents and challengers, with a request for responses by September 4, 2018:
For incumbents: Have you signed, or do you firmly commit within the next 30 calendar days to sign, the discharge petition for the House net neutrality CRA, and will you vote in favor of the net neutrality CRA if it comes up for a vote?
For challengers: If you were a current member of the House of Representatives, would you have signed the discharge petition for the House net neutrality CRA, and would you vote in favor of the net neutrality CRA if it came up for a vote?
Districts in which incumbents and challengers are receiving the questionnaire are: IA-1, IL-12, VA-7, PA-8, VA-10, TX-7, FL-26, CA-10, FL-25, NY-11, NY-19, PA-1, NJ-5, GA-06, AR-2, TX-23, NY-24, CA-25, NJ-7, MN-2, UT-04, FL-18, CA-04, AZ-02, AZ-1, MN-3, ME-02, NY-23, CA-48, IL-6, PA-17, PA-16, NY-21, NY-22, CA-21, CA-45, KS-03, NY-01
All of the representatives and challengers receiving the questionnaire are running in competitive districts where net neutrality will be an important issue for voters and where the current member of Congress has not yet signed the discharge petition to bring a vote on the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to restore net neutrality. The CRA passed the Senate in May with bipartisan support, and the CRA discharge has been signed by 177 members in the House, including Republican Representative Mike Coffman. The CRA needs the support of a simple majority, or 218 members to pass the House. It would immediately restore the net neutrality protections repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Support for restoring net neutrality is extremely strong across party lines. A poll conducted by the University of Maryland in April found that 86% of voters opposed the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, including overwhelming majorities of Republicans, Independents and Democrats.
A more recent poll conducted by IMGE Insights—which specifically focused on voters in House battleground districts—found that 58% of undecided voters would be more likely to vote for their current Congressperson if they took action to overturn the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. Meanwhile, only 8% said such an action would make them less likely to vote for that member. 56% of undecided voters said net neutrality would be an important factor in determining who they vote for.
The FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections has opened the door for internet providers to slow and block traffic online, and to charge sites and apps new fees to reach users. The impact on free expression and local businesses, which rely on an open internet to compete and reach customers, will be devastating unless Congress acts to reverse the FCC’s repeal by signing the discharge petition and passing the CRA.
“Net neutrality has massive support among the public, regardless of political affiliation, and it will be a major consideration for voters in this year’s midterms,” said Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal. “Incumbents who decline to sign the discharge will be actively siding with extremely unpopular telecom giants like Comcast and AT&T over their constituents and small businesses — a particularly dangerous political move for members facing competitive races.”
“In these divisive times, one issue an overwhelming number of Americans agree upon is that all persons should have the ability to communicate and access information freely regardless of their political perspective or economic power. Free speech, online and elsewhere, is nothing but an empty promise unless it is vigorously defended. That is why 86% of Americans want net neutrality restored immediately and are prepared to take to the voting booth to make it happen,” said Chad Marlow, ACLU Senior Advocacy & Policy Counsel.
“This is not complicated. Net neutrality is basically the only issue that Republican and Democratic voters wholeheartedly agree on. Any lawmaker who fails to do their job and sign the discharge petition is exposing themselves as a puppet of Big Cable,” said Sarah Roth-Gaudette, Executive Director of Fight for the Future. “How to lose your election in one easy step: vote against net neutrality.”
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult for members of Congress to hide their opposition to a free and open internet from their constituents, especially given public polling that shows vast majorities of Republicans and Democrats alike favor restoring the Net Neutrality protections,” said Free Press Action Fund Campaign Manager Adam Maxwell. “This questionnaire will put key House members on the record before November, letting their constituents know once and for all whether their elected officials are standing with the people in defense of an open internet or with Big Cable against it.”