Net Neutrality Activists Launch Crowdfunded Billboards Targeting Key Members Of Congress

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By Tiffiniy Cheng for Fight For The Future – Today digital rights organization Fight for the Future unleashed a series of crowdfunded billboards targeting lawmakers who support FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s efforts to repeal the country’s net neutrality rules. With members of Congress back in their home districts, the billboards – paid for by hundreds of small donations – appear in six different states just weeks before the FCC’s final deadline for public input on their proposal to gut net neutrality rules that prevent companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from charging extra fees, throttling, or blocking websites, apps, and online services. Since the massive July 12th day of action, millions have contacted their representatives – who have oversight over the FCC – to ensure these key protections are not changed or removed. The billboards send a strong message to any Members of Congress contemplating support for the FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality, which is currently being tracked through a “congressional scorecard” on BattleForTheNet.com. So far very few lawmakers have been willing to publicly support Ajit Pai’s plan, likely in light of polling that shows voters – including Republicans – overwhelmingly oppose it.

FCC Extends Deadline For Net Neutrality Comments

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By Harper Neidig for The Hill – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday agreed to extend a deadline for submitting comments on its proposal to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules. The deadline for responding to the first round of public comments, which closed last month, has been extended from Aug. 16 to Aug. 30. Groups supporting net neutrality filed a motion for an eight-week extension to respond to comments in favor of the repeal effort, submitted largely by the cable and telecom industries. Those industry groups opposed the extension arguing that both sides of this long-running debate have had “multiple opportunities to weigh in on the core issues in play here for over fifteen years across a range of public dockets.” “While it is the policy of the Commission that ‘extensions shall not be routinely granted,’ we find that an extension of the reply comment deadline is appropriate in this case in order to allow interested parties to respond to the record in this proceeding,” Daniel Kahn, the FCC’s chief of the competition policy division, wrote in Friday’s order.

Tell Your Congressmember To Save The Internet

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By Protect Our Internet. Right now your members of Congress are in their Home Districts…And they need to hear YOUR voice demanding they Protect Our Internet! Here’s The Scoop: On September 7th, Congress will hold a hearing on Net Neutrality inviting both ISPS and tech companies to testify. Before these CEOs take the stand, we have to make sure the PEOPLE are heard. What You Can Do: Visit the Town Hall Project to find out whether there’s a town hall being held in your area. If so, check out some sign and messaging ideas below. If not, pay your member of Congress a visit! Check out messaging and signage below and knock on their office door. Here’s a quick one-page primer on how to make the most out of your meeting! Town Hall or Office Visit, check out this list of social media posts and spread the word about #TeamInternet & the fight to #SaveTheInternet

Ajit Pai’s Anti-Net Neutrality Plan Gets The Facts And Law Wrong

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By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica – The FCC has prioritized one metric above all—the amount of money Internet providers have spent on upgrading networks since the rules were passed in 2015, Democrats wrote. The argument that investment has decreased is based on “scant evidence and questionable assumptions,” and in any case, network investment should not be the FCC’s only consideration, they wrote. Pai has said he will make his net neutrality decision based on the “facts and the law,” but the lawmakers argued that he has gotten both the facts and the law wrong. The FCC, Democrats wrote, “is prohibited from ignoring the effects of its actions on important national priorities such as free speech, democracy, small businesses, economic opportunity, jobs, and privacy.” The FCC comment was submitted by Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Col.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.).

Obama FCC Chief Says Net Neutrality Repeal Will Turn The Internet Into Cable

Protestors organized a "light brigade" outside the White House on Thursday night to promote net neutrality. (Photo by Nancy Scola/The Washington Post)

By Giuseppe Macri for Inside Sources – The former chief of the Federal Communications Commission under President Barack Obama on Wednesday warned the Trump administration’s plan to repeal net neutrality rules could make accessing the internet like buying a cable TV package. Tom Wheeler, who led the passage of the embattled rules at the FCC in 2015, said the new Republican plan to undo them would let broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon carve up internet access like premium cable channels. “Do you want your access to the internet to look like your cable service?” Wheeler told a crowd in BaltimoreWednesday. “Stop and think about it — cable operators pick and choose what channels you get. Cable operators pick and choose who they let on. Cable operators turn to you and say, ‘Oh you want that? That’s going to be a little bit more.’” The Republican proposal by Wheeler successor and Trump appointee Ajit Pai raises the possibility of repealing core net neutrality rules barring internet providers from web content blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Throwing out those rules, especially the latter preventing providers from making deals with popular websites like Netflix to reach subscribers faster than competitors, opens the door for broadband service packages that copy the cable TV model.

Over 190 Engineers & Tech Experts Tell The FCC It's Dead Wrong On Net Neutrality

Ajit Pai (center) is the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Mignon Clyburn (right) and Michael O'Rielly (left) remain as commissioners.
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By Karl Bode for Tech Dig – There’s now 11 million comments on the FCC’s plan to kill net neutrality, a record for the agency and a significantly higher output than the 4 million comments the FCC received when crafting the current rules. And while many of these comments are fraudulent bot-crafted support for the FCC’s plan, the limited analysis we’ve seen so far suggests the vast majority of those organizations, companies and individuals prefer keeping the existing rules intact. And most people generally understand that removing regulatory oversight in the absence of organic market competition doesn’t end well for anybody not-named Comcast. One of the more notable recent filings (pdf) from this tidal wave of opposition comes from a collection of engineers, technologists, professors, current and former IETF and ICANN staffers, and numerous network architects and system engineers. Collectively, these experts argue that the FCC is not only making a mistake in killing net neutrality protections, it doesn’t appear to understand how the internet actually works: “Based on certain questions the FCC asks in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), we are concerned that the FCC (or at least Chairman Pai and the authors of the NPRM) appears to lack a fundamental understanding of what the Internet’s technology promises to provide

Don’t Let Corporations Pick What Websites You Visit

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By Razan Azzarkani for Other Words – Think about the websites you visit. The movies you stream. The music you listen to online. The animal videos that are just too cute not to share. Now think about the freedom to use the internet however and whenever you choose being taken away from you. That’s exactly what Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs), are trying to do. Right now, those companies are constrained by a principle called net neutrality — the so-called “guiding principle of the internet.” It’s the idea that people should be free to access all the content available online without ISPs dictating how, when, and where that content can be accessed. In other words, net neutrality holds that the company you pay for internet access can’t control what you do online. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission adopted strong net neutrality rules that banned ISPs from slowing down connection speeds to competing services — e.g., Comcast can’t slow down content or applications specific to Verizon because it wants you to switch to their services — or blocking websites in an effort to charge individuals or companies more for services they’re already paying for. But now the open internet as we know it is under threat again. Net neutrality rules are in danger of being overturned by Donald Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai and broadband companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.

American Oversight Sues FCC To Obtain Net Neutrality Communications With Industry Groups

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, during the Inaugural Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Task Force Meeting in Washington, DC, on June 15, 2017. An influential paper cited by Pai in his campaign against net neutrality has been found to be "riddled with factual errors." (Photo: Lance Cheung / USDA)

By Staff of American Oversight – Washington, DC – As the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to end Net Neutrality, nonpartisan ethics watchdog American Oversight today sued the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to find out how the telecommunications industry has influenced government regulators. “The FCC has made it clear that they’re ignoring feedback from the general public, so we’re going to court to find out who they’re actually listening to about Net Neutrality. If the Trump administration is going to let industry lobbyists rewrite the rules of the Internet for millions of Americans, we’re going to make them do it in full view of the public,” said Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight. American Oversight filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in April seeking information about meetings and correspondence between the incoming FCC chair Ajit Pai, his senior staff, Congress, and companies in the telecommunications industry. After initially agreeing to process American Oversight’s requests quickly, the FCC repeatedly delayed releasing the records even as the Trump administration continued its work to roll back the open internet rules.

FCC Chair Asked Can Anything Stop Net Neutrality Rollback?

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By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica – US Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Penn.) yesterday accused Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai of pursuing an agenda that harms both consumers and small businesses. “Chairman Pai, in the time that you have been head of this agency, we have seen an agenda that is anti-consumer, anti-small business, anti-competition, anti-innovation, and anti-opportunity,” Doyle said during an FCC oversight hearing held by the House Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Doyle pointed to several of Pai’s decisions, including ending a net neutrality investigation into what Doyle called “anti-competitive zero-rating practices” by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Doyle criticized Pai moves that made it more difficult for poor people to get broadband subsidies and made it easier for large TV broadcasters to merge. The latter decision would “enable an unprecedented merger between Sinclair and Tribune that would give the combined entity a foothold in nearly 80 percent of American households,” Doyle said. (The exact figure is 72 percent of US households with TVs.) Doyle also criticized Pai for a decision that eliminated price caps in much of the business broadband market by imposing a new standard that deems certain local markets competitive even when there’s only one broadband provider.

A People-Owned Internet Exists. Here Is What It Looks Like

‘Whatever happens in Washington, we can start building an internet that respects our rights on the local level.’ Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

By Nathan Schneider for The Guardian – Like many Americans, I don’t have a choice about my internet service provider. I live in a subsidized housing development where there’s only one option, and it happens to be, by some accounts, the most hated company in the United States. Like its monstrous peers, my provider is celebrating that Congress has recently permitted it to spy on me. Although it pretends to support the overwhelming majority of the country’s population who support net neutrality, it has been trying to bury the principle of an open internet for years and, under Trump’s Federal Communications Commission, is making good progress. I can already feel my browsing habits shift. I’m reigning in curiosities a bit more, a bit more anxious about who might be watching. I’ve taken to using a VPN, like people have to do to access the open internet from China. And the real effects go deeper than personal anxieties. Although the fight for an open internet tends to have Silicon Valley tech bros at the forefront, it’s a racial justice issue; arbitrary powers for corporations tend not to help marginalized populations. It’s a rural justice issue, too.

Record 9 Million Comments Flood FCC On Net Neutrality

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

By Mike Snider for USA Today – The U.S. government has received more than 9 million public comments on rolling back net neutrality regulations, a record response to this hot-button issue that both sides argue plays an essential role in who gets Internet access. More than 9 million comments — the largest influx ever — have been filed with the Federal Communications Commission about the agency’s proposal to reverse the net neutrality rules it passed in 2015. The first public comment period ended Monday, and now a one-month rebuttal period is underway. Already, about another million additional comments have been submitted. Those totals were boosted by last week’s online ‘Day of Action’ conducted by tech companies and liberal privacy rights organizations that support the net neutrality regulations, as well as opposing comments from those in favor of overturning the rules. Big tech companies including Amazon, Google and Microsoft argue rolling back the rules will give Internet providers too much flexibility to favor some content and to charge more for others. That fear ruled the day two years ago, when the FCC passed rules preventing Internet service providers (ISPs) from throttling or blocking content online, and prohibited ISPs from prioritizing content, including their own, over other content, possibly for payment.

FCC Admits No Documentation Justifying Shutting Down Comments After John Oliver Net Neutrality Segment

From fightforthefuture.org

By Staff of Fight for the Future – Agency refuses to release hundreds of pages of documents related to alleged incident. Congress must demand answers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) admitted last night that it has no “documented analysis” to back up its claim that a DDoS attack took down the agency’s public comment website immediately following a viral John Oliver segment about net neutrality in May. The news comes in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Gizmodo – but the FCC refused to release more than 200 pages of additional documents related to the alleged incident. Fight for the Future, a nonpartisan digital rights organization that played a lead role in the massive net neutrality day of action on July 12, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to campaign director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her): “At this point even supporters of Ajit Pai’s plan to gut online free speech protections have to be wondering: what is the FCC hiding?

Librarians Read FCC Title II Riot Act

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By John Eggerton for Broadcasting Cable – The American Library Association says the FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler got the reading of the law right when it imposed strong net neutrality rules under Title II (common carrier) authority. It said 120,000 libraries and their customers would be seriously disadvantaged by getting rid of the rules banning blocking traffic and degrading (the FCC’s terminology is actually “throttling”) traffic, and says paid prioritization is inherently unfair, especially for libraries without the money to pay for such prioritization. But the ALA breaks with some Title II fans in arguing for capacity-based pricing and excluding private networks from net neutrality rules. On capacity-based pricing of broadband service, it says ISPs “may receive greater compensation for greater capacity chosen by the consumer or content, application, and service provider.” And on private networks, it says: “[T]he Commission should decline to apply the Open Internet rules to premises operators, such as coffee shops and bookstores, and private end-user networks, such as those of libraries and universities.” Neither the 2010 Title I based net neutrality rules nor the 2015 Title II-based rules applied them to private networks. So that would be staying the course.

Digital Media Companies: Net Neutrality Rules Help Us Compete

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By Sara Fischer for Axios – Why it matters: Many news publishers believe the current net neutrality rules help them survive in an economic environment that already favors tech and telecom companies that distribute content over media companies that create it. In comments to the FCC, Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint argues on behalf of nearly 80 online publishers that the rule prohibiting internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast from blocking a consumer’s ability to access lawful content should remain clearly intact. He also argues that the regulation banning those providers from striking financial deals to give priority to certain content on their networks should remain intact. DCN’s position that the rules ensure that all types of content can get to consumers is generally echoed by the Internet Association, which represents tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Netflix. Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast support the FCC’s efforts to roll back the rules, saying the current rules went beyond the agency’s authority.

Why Net Neutrality Is A Working-Class Issue

A protest to defend net neutrality in Washington, D.C. on May 18. (Free Press)

By Bryan Mercer for In These Times – You might have noticed your browsing experience was interrupted by a call-to-action on Wednesday, July 12. Amazon, Netflix, Etsy, OKCupid and hundreds of other sites covered their loading pages with banners and images asking you to save the internet. Millions of us joined together to protest the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), heeding the call from grassroots activists across all corners of the web. Led by President Donald Trump appointee Ajit Pai, the FCC is working to roll back rules that ensure the free and open flow of information on the internet. The body is attempting to undo the partial classification of the internet as a utility (meaning something every person has the right to have), and to massively expand the rights of Big Cable to lie about speeds and other services in order to make huge profits. These efforts pose a threat to net neutrality, the principle at the foundation of the internet that internet service providers treat all traffic equally. Net neutrality supports the open and free flow of information—without discrimination and without favoring content or services. Make no mistake: Net neutrality is one of the defining workers’ rights and civil rights issue of our time. We all know the internet is driving changes in culture, politics and the economy. It is also one of the key spaces where workers can organize—and where mass movements for racial and economic justice blossom and build power.