Mobile

Nearly half of all Americans own smartphones. By 2015, most of us will use mobile devices to access the Internet. Wireless technology is revolutionizing the very nature of how we communicate, organize and innovate. 

Yet the free speech rights of mobile device users are at risk. Private corporations and governments now have unprecedented control over the information we access and share via mobile networks, and too often this information is exploited. Police forces acquire data without warrants, phone carriers block or slow down Internet access, and companies lose or voluntarily give away our most sensitive information. 

Meanwhile, the pricing schemes of wireless companies are leaving entire communities behind. And all too often, government policies favor corporate interests over those of the public. 

Access to mobile phones and networks is essential to our democracy. That's why we need policies that protect the right of mobile phone users to communicate without interference from corporations or government authorities — and that ensure that everyone can access the free and open Internet on any device.

Blog Posts

  • Save the Internet

    The fight for your rights to connect and communicate is on … and the stakes have never been higher.

    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.

    Our Goals

    Real Net Neutrality protections become law.

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    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.

    Stop Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable.

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    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.

    End mass surveillance.

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    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.

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    Why is Net Neutrality so important?

    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.

    Why should the government block the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger?

    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.

    What’s wrong with mass surveillance?

    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.

    Click here to see our

    Timeline to Save the Internet

    Jan. 14, 2014:

    A federal court strikes down the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order.

    April 19:

    The FCC’s new proposal is leaked  and Free Press ramps up our campaign pushing for real Net Neutrality.

    Public interest in Net Neutrality reaches historic levels.

    May 15:

    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!

    July 15:

    On the day initial public comments on the FCC’s proposal are due, the agencys 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.  

    July-August:

    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.

    Sept. 10:

    The period for public reply comments closes.

    September-October:

    Free Press heightens pressure on the FCC and urges the agency to host public hearings.

    Nov. 4:

    Election Day

    Nov. 14 and Dec. 11:

    These are the last two scheduled FCC meetings for the year — likely timing for any new rules to be issued.

    How We’ll Win

    THE GOAL:

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    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.

    WHO WE’RE UP AGAINST:

    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.

    OUR WINNING STRATEGY:

    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.

    Expand and Mobilize the Movement

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    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.

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    Pressure the FCC

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    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.

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    Make noise outside of D.C.

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    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.

    And every day Free Press will reach new people through a social media strategy that uses Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to inspire people to take up the cause and spread the word to their own networks.

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    Keep the pressure on in Congress and beyond

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    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.

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    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.

    Use the Internet to save the Internet

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    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.

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    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.

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    Drive the Debate in the Press

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    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.

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    We can’t win this fight without you.
    Our opponents have a lot of money to throw around, but we have the people power we need to win.

    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.

  • How the AT&T–DirecTV Merger Fails the Antitrust Test

    May 28, 2014
    When regulators start peeling back this rotten onion for themselves, they're going to have one message: Not so fast, AT&T!
  • A Look at New Media's Double-Edged Sword

    May 5, 2014
    “If you want to liberate a society,” Egyptian Arab Spring activist Wael Ghonim said early in the year, “just give them the Internet.”
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Actions

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Press Releases

  • Free Press Files Petition to Deny AT&T-DIRECTV Merger

    September 17, 2014
    WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Free Press filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to deny AT&T's proposed merger with DIRECTV, stating that the deal harms the public interest.
  • Consumers Win: Sprint Drops T-Mobile Takeover Bid

    August 5, 2014
    WASHINGTON — According to press reports, Sprint is dropping its bid to acquire competitor T-Mobile, scuttling a long-rumored $32 billon deal that would have consolidated the country’s third- and fourth-largest mobile providers.
  • Free Press Action Fund Testifies in Senate: Give Wireless Users More Control

    February 26, 2014

    WASHINGTON — Free Press Action Fund Policy Director Matt Wood will testify before Congress today that the little competition that exists in the U.S. wireless market is a result of smart intervention from antitrust authorities and the Federal Communications Commission. 

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Resources

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News from Around the Web

  • Appeals Court Rules Against FCC Net Neutrality Authority

    U.S. News & World Report
    January 14, 2014

    A federal appeals court ruled that Verizon and other Internet service providers can operate like premium TV providers by offering priority broadband access to certain websites, dealing a blow to the legal authority of the FCC.

  • In Wireless First, AT&T Says It Is Ready to Offer 'Toll-Free' Data

    Recode
    January 10, 2014

    After indicating for two years that it was interested in such a service, AT&T is announcing its plan for “sponsored data,” in which businesses can pick up the bill for consumers using certain apps or services.

  • AT&T Turns Data Caps into Profits with New Fees for Content Providers

    Ars Technica
    January 10, 2014

    AT&T confirmed a long-rumored plan to monetize wireless data caps by charging content providers for the right to serve up video and other media without chewing up consumers' monthly data limits. Sometimes called 1-800-DATA, AT&T billed the plan as "a new way for eligible 4G customers to enjoy mobile content and apps over AT&T’s wireless network without impacting their monthly wireless data plan."

Learn More

  • Broadband

    Access to high-speed Internet service — also known as broadband — is a basic public necessity, just like water or electricity.

    Yet despite its importance, broadband access in the United States is far from universal. Millions of Americans still stand on the wrong side of the "digital divide," unable to tap into the political, economic and social resources of the Internet.

  • Cable

    Two decades ago, something unusual happened.

    Consumers were irate about their cable bills, which were increasing at nearly three times the rate of inflation. And Congress actually did something — adopting in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion the 1992 Cable Act. The law resulted in lower cable bills, saving consumers $3 billion in just over a year’s time.

  • Cybersecurity

    Our right to private communications is a cornerstone of American democracy. But with heightened awareness in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, technological advances have continued allowing the government to expand its reach into our private lives via electronic surveillance and data-mining programs. New laws and policies introduced in the last decade have eroded our civil liberties online.

    Congress has a poor track record when it comes to cybersecurity legislation. The bills introduced so far give the government way too much power to intrude on our privacy online.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good