Fight for the Future

Nothing is impossible.

Posted 14:53 EST on December 17, 2014

Dear Fight for the Future member,

I’ve got to be honest with you. I really didn’t think we would make it this far.

When we started this fight for net neutrality, it seemed like the odds were stacked impossibly against us. We’re up against some of the most powerful and politically well-connected companies in the world. Companies that are so close to the government, sometimes it’s hard to tell the two apart.

But against all odds, we are winning. Everything we are hearing says the FCC is finally caving to the public pressure and writing a real net neutrality rule. Please help us finish the fight: click here to chip in whatever you can afford today.

To tell the truth, when we first started this, there was a pretty strong voice in the back of my mind telling me we couldn’t win. It seemed like one of those fights you just had to fight because it was the only righteous, just, rational thing to do.

But here at Fight for the Future, when we take on a campaign, we fight to win, whether the goal seems “possible” or not. So we went all in, and spent long nights and hard days just making stuff happen. Stuff like Occupy the FCC, the Internet Slowdown, a giant net neutrality video billboard, and a calling campaign that’s kept dozens of phones at the FCC, Congress, and the White House ringing off the hook for months.

It’s working, and the effects are measurable. But the next two months will be crucial. The closer we get to winning a real net neutrality rule, the more desperate and aggressive Comcast and Verizon’s lobbyists become. They’re pouring tons of money into a misleading Ad campaign right now that’s blanketing Washington, DC in a last ditch effort to sink net neutrality in Congress, just when it seems we’ve finally secured it. But we have something they don’t have. We have all of you!

Click here to chip in $20 (or whatever you can afford) to help us counter Comcast’s lies and win the fight for net neutrality.

We’re running a little low on funds for our net neutrality work right now, but here’s the plan. There are 1.2 million people on this email list. If everyone gives $1 right now, we could run our own Ad campaign that would tear Comcast’s lies to shreds, and connect it to our broader strategy pressuring lawmakers with innovative online actions and tried and true on-the-ground protest tactics.

But not everyone can give $1, so some of us have to give $20, or $50 or $500! This is history in the making. Let’s all chip in whatever we can.

Yes, I can chip in something to make sure we win the last round of the net neutrality fight.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned since our epic victory against SOPA, it’s that the Internet has completely changed what is and isn’t possible when it comes to politics. Thanks to the free and open web, our tiny team of 7 people has been able to go head to head some of the best funded lobbying operations in the world, and win.

I really never thought I would get to send this email. We still have a long way to go, and we’ll need your support for the final round. But there’s one thing I’m sure of now. As long as we keep the Internet free and open: nothing is impossible.

Please click here to chip in what you can. You rule.

Yours for the Internet,
-Evan at FFTF

P.S. If you have nothing to give, that’s no problem. Just give yourself a pat on the back for being part of a movement that is winning. We’re glad to have you on the team.

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FCC and Sunlight Foundation drastically undercounted pro-net neutrality comments and should immediately correct the record

Posted 13:14 EST on December 17, 2014

Breaking Update: the FCC has now acknowledged to Fight for the Future in an email that there is a discrepancy in their data and they dropped at least 244,881 pro-net neutrality comments:

Update 2: Sunlight has responded. To read our analysis of their response and our rebuttal to the Sunlight Foundation’s report, click here:

December 17, 2014

Media Contact:
Evan Greer, Fight for the Future

Phone: 978-852-6457

WASHINGTON, DC –Several media outlets have run headlines based on a study from the Sunlight Foundation that is based on faulty data, which drastically underrepresents the number of pro-net neutrality comments the FCC received during its second comment period.

Based on a combination of errors by Sunlight and the FCC, it appears that Sunlight’s report undercounts the number of comments submitted through Battle for the Net (a collaboration of Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press) by at least 500,000. This alone undermines Sunlight’s claim that anti-net neutrality comments dominated the reply-comment period, but there are likely additional errors as well.

Based on an initial look at the data by Fight for the Future’s technologists, it appears that there are two major issues:

  1. The FCC failed to register a significant number of pro-net neutrality comments that were sent. We’ve thus far identified at least 150,798 comments that were missing from the FCC’s data dump, and ongoing analysis of their data suggests that this number is in fact much higher. This alone is enough to completely unseat the conclusion that anti-net neutrality commenters “dominated” the second comment period.

  2. The Sunlight Foundation’s analysis used a flawed data set that it misleadingly characterized as representative of the full set of comments; it ignored one third of the release of the FCC data (by Sunlight’s own admission), close to 800,000 comments, because of difficulty processing those comments. The data Sunlight used cannot be assumed to be “reasonably representative” of all the comments. There were several methods by which comments could be submitted to the FCC. Because this led to inconsistencies in the FCC’s release of the data, it’s an error for Sunlight to infer that the excluded comments maintained the same distribution of pro- vs. anti-net neutrality submissions as the data Sunlight did consider.  In particular, while pro-net neutrality comments were vastly undercounted by Sunlight, it appears that approximately all of American Commitment’s comments were counted: The organization claims to have generated 800,000 comments, and Sunlight claims to have counted 800,000 comments from them. The result is that the Sunlight Foundation’s finding that anti-net neutrality groups “dominated” the second round comment period is completely unfounded.

Fight for the Future co-founder Tiffiniy Cheng said, “Millions of people have spoken out in support of net neutrality, and their voices matter. Getting these numbers right is important. The FCC and the Sunlight Foundation need to act immediately to correct the record, and media outlets that have ran stories based on the faulty data should publish prominent corrections.”

“Sunlight applied a flawed sampling methodology to a flawed set of data, and drew conclusions that are impossible to make with any ‘reasonably representative’ certainty,” said Jeff Lyon, Fight for the Future’s Chief Technical Officer, “Sunlight’s approach is like trying to draw conclusions about the average income in Massachusetts by only surveying people in Boston.” Lyon provided the following explanation of the serious errors he was able to identify in the FCC’s data and Sunlight’s analysis of it:

There are two major problems with the data the FCC released and the resulting study:

  1. The Sunlight Foundation based its study on the data released by the FCC in this October 22 blog post by Gigi Sohn. However, the FCC failed to register hundreds of thousands of pro-net neutrality comments from Battle for the Net, and perhaps from other organizations.

  2. Sunlight’s methodology was flawed. Sunlight was unable to parse all of the data released by the FCC. According to the FCC, there were 2.4 million comments in the data, but Sunlight was only able to read 1.6 million comments. Sunlight’s study is based on a subset of the data that misses one third of the data  in FCC"s data dump; this data set is not reasonably representative of the big picture but in fact was comprised mainly of one set of comments. Furthermore, Sunlight significantly underreported the number of comments from Battle for the Net that the FCC actually recorded.

In actuality, there were at least 998,498 comments sent from Battle for the Net, but between the FCC not recording them and Sunlight applying a flawed methodology to analyze what little data there actually was, the end result was completely distorted.

The FCC failed to register our comments:

In the FCC’s release of the data, Ms. Sohn reports that the FCC received 725,169 comments through ECFS and CSV uploads during the second comment period from July 19th to September 15th.

However, just between September 12th and September 15th, Battle for the Net sent 527,953 comments through CSV uploads alone. We also submitted 470,596 more comments via ECFS and email. Battle for the Net’s numbers alone are far higher than the numbers reported by Ms. Sohn.

Given that numerous other individuals and organizations were submitting net neutrality comments during the same period, at best the FCC is severely underreporting the number of comments sent out from pro-net neutrality activists.

To verify this, we downloaded and analyzed the data dump of all comments received by the FCC during the second commenting period, and compared our data to the FCC’s. Please note that we have thus far only analyzed the 527,953 comments sent via CSV, and we are still processing reports on the data submitted by ECFS and email.

Total number of comments we submitted via CSV: 527,953

Almost all of these submissions used an open letter by Senator Angus King with each participant signing on. To do a sanity test, we checked our CSV data for two of the phrases from the letter:

Number of occurrences of phrase: ‘These principles of fairness and openness’ in our CSV comments: 525,189 (this number may be lower than actual due to aggressive deduplication)

Number of occurrences of phrase: ‘We are writing to urge you to implement’ in our CSV comments: 525,189 (this number may be lower than actual due to aggressive deduplication)

Next, we scanned the data from the dump of FCC’s ECFS comments from the second commenting period.

Number of occurrences of phrase: ‘These principles of fairness and openness’ in FCC’s data dump of ECFS comments: 374,421

Number of occurrences of phrase: ‘We are writing to urge you to implement’ in FCC’s data dump of ECFS comments: 374,391

We identified 525,189 CSV comments, and found that at most the FCC only recorded 374,421. From this basic analysis alone, it is clear that, at best, the FCC missed a huge number of the comments we submitted via CSV. But we also sent over 470,596 more comments via email and through FCC’s ECFS site, (before it broke from all the load we put it under). Initial results are indicating that a large number of these comments submitted through email and ECFS were also not recorded by the FCC, but we are still generating reports to more precisely quantify those numbers.

We are running a more thorough analysis of the data to identify all the individuals whose comments were not recorded by the FCC, but crunching through all of this data will take several hours.

Sunlight’s methodology was not “reasonably representative”.

Sunlight was unable to parse all of the data released by the FCC. According to the FCC, there were 2.4 million comments in the data, but Sunlight was only able to read 1.6 million comments. They chose to base their conclusions on a subset of the data that may not be representative of the big picture. According to Sunlight’s own admission:

Clearly, 1.67 million documents is far short of 2.5 million (the number reported in the commission’s blog post). We spent enough time with these files that we’re reasonably sure that the FCC’s comment counts are incorrect and that our analysis is reasonably representative of what’s there, but the fact that it’s impossible for us to know for sure is problematic

Sunlight also significantly under-reported the number of comments that came from Battle for the Net commenters, estimating this at 271,608. When we pointed out how easily we identified at least 367,460 of our own comments in the data, they acknowledged their error. However, this margin alone could have been enough to tip their conclusions in favor of net neutrality activists.

Furthermore, the FCC confirmed that people who signed petitions would be counted as individual commenters. Many net-neutrality activist organizations attached their petition signatures as PDFs attached to single ECFS filings. Sunlight was unable to parse these PDFs and chose to simply exclude them from their sample pool, ignoring perhaps hundreds of thousands of pro-net neutrality comments. On the other hand, Sunlight was able to easily read all of American Commitment’s comments, further distorting their results in favor of anti-net neutrality commenters.

Sunlight applied a flawed sampling methodology to a flawed set of data, and drew conclusions that are impossible to make with any “reasonably representative” certainty.


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PRESS RELEASE: Net neutrality protesters disrupt FCC meeting with giant "Reclassify Now" banner

Posted 11:50 EST on December 11, 2014


Photo by Greg Nash, The HIll


Media Contacts:
Margaret Flowers,

Phone: 410-591-0892

Evan Greer, Fight for the Future
Phone: 978-852-6457

Net Neutrality activists interrupt FCC meeting, unfurl “Reclassify Now!” banner behind commissioners

WASHINGTON, DC – This morning at 10:40am, net neutrality demonstrators interrupted the FCC’s monthly meeting by unfurling a large banner reading “Reclassify Now!” behind the seated FCC commissioners. The activists, both union members, were escorted from the room by security after speaking out and asking FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler why he continues to delay Title II net neutrality, which should have been voted on at today’s meeting.

See photos of the action here:

See a video of the action here:

Other activists inside the meeting held paper signs calling for reclassification of the Internet under Title without delay. Several stood up and spoke to Chairman Wheeler from the floor to ask why net neutrality was left off the agenda before being escorted from the room. Outside, a crowd of protesters gathered with signs reading “Save the Internet! and “Reclassify Under Title II!”

Activist Vanessa Beck of, who participated in the action, said “Nearly 4 million people submitted comments to the FCC on net neutrality, a record number, and more than 99% supported reclassification under Title II. If the FCC was a truly democratic agency, we would have a Title II rule today. Chairman Wheeler needs to stop stalling and listen to the public.”

While demonstrators made their voices heard at the FCC, digital rights group Fight for the Future, who helped publicize the protests, also rallied support online launching a new feature on that allows supporters to easily email FCC employees with a few clicks. The group has has helped drive more than 40,000 phone calls to the FCC in recent months.

The disruption today was organized by, the activist group that helped lead Occupy the FCC and famously blockaded FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s driveway last month. Net neutrality supporters vowed to continue escalating their efforts until the FCC votes to approve Title II reclassification and protect the Internet from cable company abuse and censorship.



Activists are escorted from the room after unfurling the banner. Photo by Brian Fung, Washington Post, on Twitter.


Photo by Ben Friedman, on Twitter.

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Illinois just passed a law that makes it more illegal for you to record the cops than for them to record you.

Posted 16:40 EST on December 10, 2014

Dear Fight for the Future member,

Illinois just passed a vague law that discourages people from recording their interactions with police by making it a felony to record cops and other government officials in certain circumstances.

The right to record our interactions with law enforcement and government officials is a basic freedom. It protects all of us from abuse. But the legislature of Illinois just hastily passed an amendment attached to a totally unrelated bill that will actually increase “penalties that people face if they record police or other officials in situations where they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” [1]

The problem is that the bill’s language is so vague that it will leave Illinois residents wondering whether and when they have the right to record their interactions with police. [2] This will have a chilling effect, and if it becomes a trend it and poses a threat to our First Amendment rights. Worse, this bill grants new authorities to police and informants to secretly record conversations without a warrant, [3]

Sign the petition to the Governor of Illinois: veto the bill that makes it more illegal to record the cops than for them to record you.

People from across the political spectrum all agree on one thing: we want more transparency and accountability from our government. Anytime a state passes a law that limits our freedom, it’s important that we push back to prevent it from becoming a dangerous trend.

Please click here to sign the petition, and then forward this email to as many people as you can.

More than 10,000 people have taken action on this in just the first few hours of us learning about the bill. If everyone signs and shares this we’ll almost certainly strike a major victory for free speech and privacy.

-Evan, Tiffiniy, and Holmes

Fight for the Future

P.S. There’s some confusing information going around about this bill. For example, read this, and this. Our position is that this bill is a net negative for freedom because it imposes stronger penalties when people record police than when they record a civilian, causing a chilling effect, and it gives police and informants new power to record civilians without a warrant. Read more here.


[1] Kravets, David. Ars Technica. “Illinois – Again – Moves to Ban Recording the Police.”

[2] Halleck, Thomas. International Business Times. “Illinois Passes Bill That Makes it Illegal to Record Police.”

[3] ACLU of Illinois. “Eavesdropping bill passes in Illinois.”

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The FCC is holding a meeting and net neutrality is not on the agenda. Join us for a protest!

Posted 15:58 EST on December 10, 2014


The FCC is stalling. They’re meeting on Thursday and somehow net neutrality is not on the agenda. Join us December 11th for a morning of protest at the FCC.

Hi Friend,

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has delayed a vote on Net Neutrality until 2015 — and he’s probably hoping the public scrutiny will fade by then.

Guess what: It won’t. And to make sure he knows it, we’re showing up in person at the agency’s final meeting of the year to remind Wheeler that we’re #StillWatching him and will keep making noise until the FCC protects the open Internet.

We need you there next Thursday: All you need to do is grab some props (like oversized specs or a magnifying glass) and show up to join in the fun.

Here are the details:

What: Rally to Save the Internet: Net Neutrality Now

When: Thurs., Dec. 11, 9–10 a.m.

Where: Outside FCC headquarters, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C.

RSVP: Click here to tell us you’re coming and invite your friends.

Bring: A magnifying glass/specs and a sign calling for Title II, your cell phone, tablet, or laptop with loaded!

At 10am toward the end of the rally, meet at the back of the protest on the sidewalk on 12th street with other net neutrality supporters who will be going inside the meeting and holding their phones silently in protest. Follow @fightfortheftr on the day of for updates.

Wheeler claims he needs more time to mull over Net Neutrality— but you and I both know that he has all the info he needs right now to reclassify Internet-access service under Title II. And there should be no doubt in his mind that reclassifying under Title II is the only way to protect the open Internet.

Join us on Dec. 11 to demand Net Neutrality now—

Please RSVP if you can make it, and if not, please invite any friends you have in the area!

Thanks for all you do,
-Evan at FFTF

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