News Column

Activists Gear Up for Next Phase of Net Neutrality Fight

July 17, 2014



WASHINGTON, July 17 -- The FreePress issued the following news release:

Several leading grassroots organizations and Web platforms today announced the launch of BattlefortheNet.com, a site serving as a hub of organizing in the Net Neutrality fight.

Since it went live earlier this week, more than 100,000 Internet users have used the website to urge the Federal Communications Commission to implement strong Net Neutrality regulations. The FCC's website has been working inconsistently, so the comments are still being delivered.

Millions more Americans have made their support for Net Neutrality known to the FCC since a court in January struck down the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order. The public response to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's pay-to-play Internet plan is the largest outpouring of concern about a proposed rule in the FCC's history.

Net Neutrality is what makes the Internet a level playing field for all content providers and users. Without Net Neutrality rules, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can choose to undermine certain sites by slowing their delivery speeds to a crawl -- while speeding up other sites, like those that pay the ISPs, or those that promote content that the ISPs own. Wheeler's plan would harm startups, small businesses, artists, independent media outlets, and even more established sites by allowing ISPs to favor certain sites over others.

BattlefortheNet.com is framed as a battle between "Team Cable" (the ISPs) and "Team Internet" (nearly everyone else). Over the months to come, companies, politicians, public figures, and other important players in the fight will be encouraged to make their stand on the issue, and we will encourage even more activists to use the site to submit pro-Net Neutrality comments to the FCC.

The first Net Neutrality comment phase ends Friday; a response phase will then run until Sept. 10.

Early backers of the site include the groups Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press and CREDO, and Web platforms BoingBoing, reddit, Namecheap, Etsy, Kickstarter, Tumblr and Cheezburger.

"Millions of Americans have already spoken out in support of Net Neutrality -- a level unprecedented in the history of the FCC," said Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal. "With the launch of Battle for the Net, we're taking this fight to an even higher level, as we've created a central space and a framework which will allow for the participation of millions more Americans, and demands that politicians and companies answer that most fundamental question: Whose side are you on?"

"People depend on the Internet every day to communicate and meet their basic needs. That's why the FCC is seeing this record-breaking outcry," said reddit General Manager Erik Martin. "When you try to take away people's access to the open Web, expect them to react similarly to if you tried to take away their access to water or electricity -- the public won't stand for it, and the Internet gives them a voice to say so."

"The FCC's current proposal would break the Internet -- so the Internet broke the FCC's website with comments," said Evan Greer of Fight for the Future. "Maybe before the Internet existed it would have been easy for mega-corporations like Comcast to screw us over without anyone noticing. But since the Internet is in fact a communication network, it has allowed the public's voice to drown out lobbying dollars and PR firms. That's even more evidence that the Internet need to be reclassified as a public utility that serves public needs over corrupt and narrow private interests."

"It's hard to say who is more unpopular with the general public -- cable companies or politicians," said CREDO Political Director Becky Bond. "But if you had to guess, politicians who side with the cable companies over the best interest of their constituents would be a pretty good bet. Elected officials who are tempted to sell out the very people they are supposed to represent should consider the serious blowback that is about to come their way."

"The Battle for the Net starts today at the FCC, but it will be carried to Congress, the White House and all across the country until we secure real Net Neutrality once and for all," said Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron. "Team Cable may have the most expensive lobbyists and more money to spend on its misinformation campaigns, but Team Internet will have the creativity and commitment of millions of users behind it. Chairman Wheeler, President Obama and the rest of Washington should know that this is a fight in which you have to pick sides -- but if you stand up for the Internet, the Internet will stand up for you."

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Source: Targeted News Service


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