People + Policy
= Positive Change for the Public Good
Welcome to the Free Press blog! We post several times a week on everything from Internet access to free speech to media mergers, so check back often to see what we’re up to.
Scroll below to learn how we’re going to win.
The open Internet is under attack.
By year’s end, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote on rules that would give Internet service providers the power to discriminate online and create pay-to-play Internet fast lanes. If the agency approves these rules, the Internet as we know it will vanish.
Meanwhile, powerful companies like AT&T and Verizon are deploying hundreds of lobbyists to stop the FCC from making rules that would actually protect Internet users. Comcast, on the other hand, is pretending to support Net Neutrality while trying to sell the government on its merger with Time Warner Cable.
And the government’s overreaching surveillance programs have violated our privacy as the NSA and other agencies have combed through our emails, our browsing histories, our Web chats and more.
Here’s the good news: Millions of people are fighting back. We’re seeing unprecedented levels of support for the open Internet and our right to digital privacy.
But if we’re going to win, we need to get bigger and louder than ever before — and we need to do it fast.
Convince the FCC to abandon its proposal, restore its authority to enforce strong Net Neutrality rules, and protect the open Internet once and for all.
The FCC’s plan would let a handful of companies become the gatekeepers of everything we do, say and see online. If the FCC’s rules go into effect, Internet service providers will be allowed to favor their own content and charge extra fees to others for VIP treatment. This would create a two-tiered Internet, with express lanes for the few who can afford the tolls — and winding dirt roads for the rest of us.
Net Neutrality is under serious threat precisely because only a handful of mammoth phone and cable companies control Internet access in the United States.
Comcast is the biggest of them all, and it wants to buy chief rival Time Warner Cable for $45 billion … which would make it the monopoly cable provider for nearly two-thirds of U.S. homes. Free Press is the most outspoken opponent of this deal: We disrupted its rollout, we’ve been widely quoted in the press, and we’ve testified in Congress about its many harms.
As if one mega-merger wasn’t bad enough, AT&T has jumped back on the merger bandwagon and now wants to buy satellite-TV operator DirecTV for more than $67 billion.
For the cost of these two monster deals, AT&T and Comcast could collectively deploy super-fast gigabit-fiber broadband service to every single home in America.
Click here to find out more about this disastrous deal and how you can help us stop it.
The NSA’s spying programs threaten our basic rights to connect, communicate and organize. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and assembly, and the Fourth Amendment guarantees protection from warrantless seizure.
But companies like AT&T, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Verizon are tracking our phone calls and monitoring our emails, Web chats and other online activity — creating giant databases that are ripe for NSA spying. Worse, some of these companies are colluding with the government in ways that threaten free expression, privacy and the public interest.
The Free Press Action Fund is a founding member of the Stop Watching Us coalition, which launched a petition calling for NSA accountability and legal reforms to protect our privacy. So far nearly 600,000 people and hundreds of organizations have signed on.
The coalition is urging Congress to form a special committee to investigate and report on the extent of the NSA’s spying. It’s the only way we can find out exactly what’s taking place.
We’re also calling for revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Patriot Act so that they explicitly prohibit the blanket surveillance of Internet activity and phone records of U.S. residents.
To find out more about where your legislators stand on these bills, visit StandAgainstSpying.org.
Net Neutrality has made the Internet an unrivaled space for free speech, civic participation, innovation and opportunity. Net Neutrality prohibits online discrimination and gives any individual, organization or company the same chance to share their ideas and find an audience.
Comcast is the nation’s #1 cable and Internet company and Time Warner Cable is the #2 cable provider. They both regularly rank at the bottom of the barrel in customer-service surveys. Put them together and you get one subpar giant offering service to two-thirds of U.S. homes.
Giving one company this much power is dangerous. This deal would lead to less consumer choice, less diversity and much higher bills.
Domestic surveillance doesn’t just invade our privacy; it’s also ineffective. There is no evidence that the NSA’s programs have thwarted any attacks or made America any safer. Domestic surveillance is also unconstitutional. Bulk spying infringes on our First and Fourth Amendment rights. In secret rulings, the court has found that the NSA has violated the Constitution.
A federal court strikes down the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order.
The FCC’s new proposal is leaked — and Free Press ramps up our campaign pushing for real Net Neutrality.
The FCC officially proposes its flawed rules. Free Press is ready and organizes a lively rally outside FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. The fight to save the Internet is on!
On the day initial public comments on the FCC’s proposal are due, the agency’s servers crash thanks to the heavy traffic. In a few short hours Free Press and allies mobilize to hand-deliver hundreds of thousands of comments. The agency makes the unprecedented move to extend its deadline by three days.
The SUMMER TO SAVE THE INTERNET: Free Press unleashes a major public education and organizing campaign that will include dozens of in-district meetings between members of Congress and activists.
The period for public reply comments closes.
Free Press heightens pressure on the FCC and urges the agency to host public hearings.
These are the last two scheduled FCC meetings for the year — likely timing for any new rules to be issued.
Convince FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to scrap his current proposal and make rules that protect real Net Neutrality. He can do that by reclassifying broadband under the law and treating Internet access as a “common carrier.” This legally sound approach is the only way to protect Internet users from blocking and discrimination.
The next few months will be crucial: The FCC is expected to make a final rule before the end of 2014.
We have a formidable opponent: the phone and cable industry, which employs an army of well-heeled lobbyists in Washington. These companies have essentially unlimited financial resources and close connections to Capitol Hill and the White House. Tech firms and Internet service providers rank among the biggest influence-peddlers in Washington, spending $26 million lobbying Congress on this issue in the first quarter of 2014 alone. Their misinformation campaign and litigation efforts have thwarted the FCC from implementing even basic safeguards online.
The key decision-makers may live in Washington, but if the debate stays inside the Beltway the outcome will be disastrous. The only thing that will stop these powerful corporations from getting their way — the only thing that has ever stopped them — is organizing and mobilizing the public. Creative activism, nimble strategic collaborations, and popular education efforts are needed to ensure the public is heard.
Click the images below to see all the ways Free Press is leading this crucial fight.
Free Press is building an ever-expanding coalition of groups with overlapping networks, all of which are educating and organizing their diverse constituencies to advance Net Neutrality protections.
The Summer to Save the Internet is a huge organizing and education effort. Free Press will turn out crowds of people to events throughout the country, including FCC hearings. We’ll support actions like those we helped spark on May 15, when we held a big protest rally outside the FCC’s headquarters and inspired protests in 20 other cities around the country. And we’ll encourage people to create their own actions too. We’ll organize a range of creative events — protests outside political fundraisers in Silicon Valley, a high-profile march from the FCC to the White House, street theater — to bring people into the streets and keep press attention focused on the issue.
Free Press is using innovative and timely online actions to organize and mobilize our 750,000 members to demand real Net Neutrality and take action on- and offline. In coordination with our allies, we’re strategizing about the best moment to launch a full-blown online day of action to rival the 2012 SOPA/PIPA Web blackout.
Free Press is a proven advocate at the FCC, and we’ve built a foundation of policy expertise on Net Neutrality. We are the lead public interest group filing detailed comments, preparing legal challenges and meeting face-to-face with decision-makers at the agency.
In the weeks leading up to the agency’s May 15 vote to issue the proposed rules, Free Press members and allies overloaded the FCC’s phones and inboxes with more than 3.4 million letters and phone calls. We continued this advocacy in the weeks leading up to the initial-comment deadline in July: Already, more people have commented on this proposal than on any other in the agency’s history. We’ll continue to rally our 750,000 members to flood the FCC with comments, calls and visits as the deadline for reply comments approaches in September.
In our own filings with the FCC, we built the definitive case for Net Neutrality. We use data and legal arguments that debunk industry’s false claims and demonstrate that reclassification will protect Internet users and boost our economy by stimulating investment and spurring competition. We also prove that reclassification is the only means of preserving the Internet's level playing field and ensuring that users can communicate and innovate without having to go through gatekeepers. In the coming months, we’ll watchdog the FCC’s attempts to placate the public with rhetoric that doesn’t match the dangerous reality of the rules they’ve proposed.
We’ll organize our members and work with allies to mount pressure on the FCC from Congress, the White House, state attorneys general, municipal leaders and others. Our message: The American public will settle for nothing less than real Net Neutrality. We’ll hold Hill briefings, field events with members of Congress and much more.
The Free Press Action Fund will lead lobbying strategy on Capitol Hill for the movement. Already this year, we’ve met dozens of times with members of Congress and their staffs, and our members have placed thousands of calls to Congress. As a result, 36 members of the House signed a letter telling the FCC to reclassify, and 13 prominent senators issued a similar call. On the flip side, former Net Neutrality opponents like Rep. Gary Peters are now advocating for reclassification. We’ll ramp up work with our allies to visit dozens more congressional offices.
Moving forward, the Free Press Action Fund will build momentum in key districts across the country. Our aim: to get pro-Net Neutrality resolutions passed at the city and state levels, and for local politicians to endorse Net Neutrality. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has already passed a pro-Net Neutrality resolution and many other politicians throughout the country are taking up the cause. At the national level, we’ll continue to oppose legislation that would harm the open Internet. Our outreach has already succeeded in forcing the House to shelve an amendment that would have prevented the FCC from enforcing Net Neutrality rules.
And when members of Congress leave the Beltway for their summer recess, we’ll have in-district meetings lined up back in their home districts, where scores of Free Press activists will lobby their representatives with compelling arguments for Net Neutrality.
To influence policymakers, lawmakers and the public, Free Press will continue to deploy a dynamic communications strategy that helps set the terms and tone of the debate. Free Press has already earned more than 2,000 mentions and quotes in the press this year. We’ve organized press calls and issued timely press releases. As a result, important articles have been written and Free Press has been featured in every major media outlet, from ABC, CBS, C-SPAN, MSNBC, NPR and PBS to the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Wired. In the months ahead, we’ll continue courting the press with fresh hooks based on new research and local events; rapid responses to industry claims; and Op-Eds written by our team, new allies, reputable academics and well-known celebrities.
Our rights to connect and communicate — via universally accessible, open, affordable and fast communications networks and devices — are essential to our individual, economic and political freedoms.
Yet these rights — codified in the First Amendment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — are at the mercy of powerful phone, cable and Internet companies and the government agencies they collude with.
Phone and cable companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are raising prices, cutting service, blocking applications, censoring speech and violating our privacy. Internet companies — both familiar names and others you’ve never heard of — are compiling profiles of millions of people, selling the data and raking in billions. And federal agencies like the NSA are plying these same companies with requests for the data of millions of users — issuing these demands in secret and in the absence of any real accountability.
The Internet is the foremost battleground for free speech in the 21st century, and protecting our Internet freedom is essential to safeguarding our rights to speak and assemble in private.
Together we’re building the movement we need to protect our rights to connect and communicate.
People + Policy
= Positive Change for the Public Good