Net Neutrality Advocates Deliver 3.5 Million Petitions To Mitch McConnell For Net Neutrality Vote

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Above: Net Neutrality advocates deliver of 3.5 million signatures to Mitch McConnell on June 11, 2019.

On June 11th, some of the country’s largest netroots and advocacy groups delivered 3.5 million unique petition signatures and comments to Senator McConnell in support of net neutrality

June 11th marks one year since the FCC’s repeal of all net neutrality protections went into effect. In the year since the repeal, there have been extremely troubling incidents of telecom giants slowing popular services like YouTube and Netflix as well as Skype, and Verizon throttling firefighters’ data in the midst of a massive wildfire.

In April, the House of Representatives passed the Save the Internet Act (HR 1644), which would restore the net neutrality protections repealed by the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai — protections that are crucial to preventing unjust, unreasonable and discriminatory behavior by internet providers. In 2018, the Senate passed a similar measure, known as a Congressional Review Act resolution, with bipartisan support.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has declared net neutrality “dead on arrival” in the Senate this year, despite the fact 86% of the public—including overwhelming majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats—oppose the FCC’s net neutrality repeal.

On the morning of Tuesday, June 11th, public interest advocates from Demand Progress, Free Press Action, Fight for the Future, Consumer Reports, Public Knowledge, Common Cause, National Hispanic Media Coalition, 18MillionRising.org, PEN America, and the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press hand delivered 3.5 million pro-net neutrality public comments and petition signatures, generated by dozens of netroots groups, to Senator Mitch McConnell in Washington, DC. The delivery includes petitions from StopTheFCC.net, BattleForTheNet.com, CREDO Action, Consumer Reports, and Free Press Action, as well as public comments submitted to the FCC going back to the lead up to the 2017 repeal. (For more information on the delivery, reach out to Mark Stanley, mark@demandprogress.org).

On the same day, 26 netroots groups launched an online coalition action demanding senators cosponsor and that Mitch McConnell allow a vote on the Save the Internet Act. Similar efforts by these same groups have driven hundreds of thousands of online actions and phone calls in support of net neutrality in the last year and a half. Over 100 nonprofit and public interest organizations are also sending a letter on June 11th to Sen. McConnell in support of the Save the Internet Act.

These activities will coincide with an all-day livestream on the 11th hosted by web companies, video creators, celebrities, gamers, artists, veterans, business owners and policy experts, to draw attention to the Senate’s inaction on this issue, and to pressure Senate leadership to allow a vote to restore net neutrality. 

“Mitch McConnell’s obstinance on net neutrality and subservience to the telecom industry is harming everyday Americans. Each day McConnell refuses to allow a vote on open internet protections, small businesses and rural communities that need broadband access bear the brunt. There’s no excuse — Americans depend on a free and open internet for their livelihoods, and to access crucial services. McConnell must stop obstructing and allow a vote on commonsense net neutrality protections supported by the overwhelming majority of the country,” said Mark Stanley, Director of Communications for Demand Progress.

“Communities of color and low-income families are placed at risk by a deeply disturbing decision to allow ISP’s to introduce paid prioritization. As a corporate scheme to divide the Internet into the have’s and have-nots paid prioritization will deny some the powerful public voice we all deserve. A year after the FCC’s deeply unpopular decision to repeal net neutrality, internet users already disadvantaged by inequality now run the risk of being disconnected by corporate greed. To protect equal voice, the Majority Leader must do his job and bring the Save the Internet Act to the floor of the Senate for a vote,” said Erin Shields, National Field Organizer on Internet Rights at MediaJustice (formerly Center for MediaJustice).

“The fight for net neutrality is the fight for our digital civil rights. For communities of color and low-income families, a free and open Internet is our lifeline. The overwhelming majority of Americans support net neutrality, but the FCC has become a puppet for the ISPs. Destroying it is nothing less than a scam to sell our civil rights to the highest bidder. We call on the Senate to bring the Save the Internet Act to the floor for a vote,” said Laura Li, Campaigner at 18MillionRising.org.

“It’s been one year since the FCC repealed Net Neutrality protections. Access to an open internet is a critical racial-justice issue. People of color rely on Net Neutrality protections to tell our own stories, advocate for our communities and speak out against injustice. Without Net Neutrality, the nation’s largest internet service providers are free to block, slow down or throttle the kinds of speech that are essential to the fight for our digital civil rights. And without the legal framework the Trump administration wrongly abandoned, the FCC is powerless to promote more affordable broadband options for people of color and those most often disconnected from the internet. Senate leadership must stop standing in our way and pass the Save the Internet Act,” said Carmen Scurato, Senior Policy Counsel at Free Press Action.

“Millions of consumers told the FCC we wanted net neutrality rules, while a handful of internet service providers told the FCC to get rid of the rules.  The FCC took the side of the internet providers over consumers. But the millions of people who support net neutrality haven’t gone away. This tall stack of comments and signatures is sending a message that the Senate needs to hear, loud and clear: consumers want net neutrality, and senators should pass the Save the Internet Act to restore a fair and open internet,” said Jonathan Schwantes, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumer Reports.

“Net neutrality is another name for democracy on the internet, for the absence of first-class privileges for the wealthy and powerful. If we had a bit more Congress neutrality we’d have net neutrality too; we’re going to do our best to get it anyway,” said RootsAction.org Campaign Coordinator David Swanson.

“Net Neutrality is about free speech and fair access to words and ideas, regardless of one’s income level or price points at one’s internet provider,” said Thomas O. Melia, Washington Director of PEN America. “In the 21st Century, American democracy requires Net Neutrality.”

“The volume of a person’s voice at a protest in a public park does not fluctuate with the size of her bank account. The size of the font one writes in does not vary based on one’s connections. Without Net Neutrality, powerful Internet Service Providers can muffle content creators if they don’t have enough money or if the content of their expression isn’t something providers want to amplify. Net Neutrality should not be based on the depth of one’s pockets, but on a principle of equal online access for internet users.”