Fight for the Future

The only CIA officer in jail for the torture program is the whistleblower who exposed it

Posted 14:08 EST on December 18, 2014

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Dear Fight for the Future member,

“Rectal feeding.” Wrongfully detained prisoners forced to stand on broken legs. Deaths from hypothermia. People missing. By now you’ve surely read the gruesome details from the CIA Torture Report. [1] Incredibly, the only person who is in jail as a result of this illegal program (and coverup) is … the whistleblower who exposed it. [2]

Sign the petition to pardon John Kiriakou, the CIA agent that exposed the torture program.

As a CIA agent, John Kiriakou was ordered to commit inhumane acts of torture, but he refused. [3] He did what all of us would like to think we would do in that situation. Now the government is punishing him for doing the right thing.

In times like these, it’s critical we all stand up and hold our government accountable. We can start by gaining freedom for the person who helped shed light on these crimes. Then we can begin prosecuting the real perpetrators: the politicians who authorized this torture, and the CIA officials who hid it from the Senate and the public.

Click here to sign the petition to free John Kiriakou, the CIA torture report whistle blower.

Anytime the government cracks down on whistleblowers and those who tell the truth, all of our rights are undermined. Let’s stand up for John and stand up for the things we can all believe in: transparency and justice.

-Tiffiniy, Holmes, Kevin, Evan, and Jeff at FFTF

P.S. Here’s the link in plain text, please forward this to all your friends and tweet using #PardonJohn:  

[1] Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Julie Tate. “Senate report on CIA program details brutality, dishonesty”. Washington Post.

[2] Russel Brandom. “The man who did the most to fight CIA torture is still in prison“. The Verge.

[3] Sam Levine. “The One Man Jailed For CIA Torture Tried To Expose It”. Huffington Post.

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Why is Sunlight Foundation playing into American Commitment’s scam?

Posted 18:26 EST on December 17, 2014

The Sunlight Foundation today published a post defending their claim that anti-net neutrality activists “dominated” the second round of the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding, based on data released by the FCC. However, numerous problems with the data and their methodology make it impossible to support their conclusions.

There were three huge problems.

First, we know the data Sunlight used excluded many of our comments. Today we confirmed with the FCC that at least 244,000 pro-net neutrality comments were not processed correctly due to an error on their end, and were missing from the data they released to Sunlight. This alone is enough to tip the scales in favor of net neutrality activists, if going purely by the numbers, and it could be much higher. [1]

Second, the Sunlight Foundation knew it was missing over 800,000 comments, and they didn’t try to figure out if the data they analysed was a representative sample. The group that “dominated” the second round of comments (in Sunlight’s words) could have simply been the one organization that–due to the technique it used for submitting–didn’t get all its submissions garbled. In fact, it looks like that’s what happened. American Commitment’s own reported numbers are actually a little lower than their total in Sunlight’s report (probably due to a final burst of paid advertising before the deadline). Pro-net neutrality comments got lost. Anti-net neutrality comments didn’t. The sample wasn’t representative of the whole.

The third problem in Sunlight’s report is their methodology, as they themselves describe it. Sunlight has publicly acknowledged a huge difference in how they counted some comments from pro-net neutrality groups like Free Press versus comments from American Commitment, the one (shady) anti-net neutrality group.

All groups were effectively collecting signatures on a letter. American Commitment submitted them as a barrage of identical comments, while groups like Free Press submitted them as signatures on a single letter. The FCC says it recognizes and counts both. But Sunlight Foundation admits they chose to treat them differently, excluding multiple signatures on a single letter from the count.

We can’t see any basis for this, other than convenience. In both cases, an individual member of the American public is taking a moment to say “Hey FCC: I agree with the following statement.” It just happens that two groups submitted that sentiment in different ways. It would be one thing if the FCC treated such comments differently, but they don’t! The FCC has said signatures count the same as individual comments.

Sunlight expresses it in neutral tones, saying “This isn’t to suggest that signature-only submissions shouldn’t be counted, but the focus of our report meant that we discarded them.” The thing is, that’s an arbitrary choice, at odds with both the intent of the people who commented and the FCC’s own criteria. And it has a huge impact on the results!

By making this choice, Sunlight knows they are excluding many pro-net neutrality comments while including *every* anti-net neutrality comment from American Commitment. In other words, they know their sample is skewed.

Finally, we’re bothered by how Sunlight handled the correction. Our CTO was up all night with the FCC data they used, comparing it to ours, and found some serious issues. We told them this. We urged them to work with us today to figure out what went wrong.

Instead, they worked on a response in silence, simply justifying their work without examining their exclusion of signatures. This would be bad even if American Commitment wasn’t engaged in a cynical attempt to manipulate the public conversation around an extremely important issue. But they are. Read about it. Sunlight knows this context, but instead of approaching the data carefully and working with others to get the answer right, they’re playing right into the scam.

The headline of their first post was (and remains at the time of writing) “One group dominates the second round of net neutrality comments.” If you arbitrarily ignore a subset of commenters (the signers) and base your conclusions on data everyone agrees is incomplete and broken, that’s true. The problem is, their provocative headline doesn’t include that disclaimer.

We still hope Sunlight will do the right thing, acknowledge the mistakes they and the FCC made and correct the record. That headline is the first thing they should fix.

[1] A note on duplicates: Sunlight writes that, of the limited number of comments from Battle for the Net that actually made it into the FCC’s data, many were duplicates and thus excluded from the study. We verified that we sent at least 526,657 unique CSV comments to the FCC by examining reference numbers we attached to them. Today the FCC acknowledged that there were technical problems with their ability to process the CSVs, and they are missing at least 244,000 pro-net neutrality comments from Battle for the Net. If the comments that actually made it into Sunlight’s data were duplicates of one another, then the number of comments the FCC lost or garbled in its release is even greater than the 244,000 confirmed so far.

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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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