Internet Summer

Summer to Save the Internet

We’ve got less than six months to save the open Internet

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 fast lanes. If the agency issues these rules, the Internet as we know it will vanish.

Powerful companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are deploying armies of lobbyists to prevent the FCC from making rules that would actually protect Internet users. We can’t let those companies be the only voices that the FCC and Congress hear.

The good news is that we’re seeing unprecedented levels of public interest and support for the open Internet and Net Neutrality. But if we’re going to win, we need to get bigger and louder than ever before — and we need to do it fast.

That’s why Free Press has launched the “Summer to Save the Internet.” Our goal: Convince the FCC to abandon its rules, restore the agency’s authority, and protect real Net Neutrality.

Scroll below to learn how we’re going to win.

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  • What Is Net Neutrality?

    Net Neutrality is the fundamental principle that ensures you can read, watch or download whatever you want — and it’s not up to a phone or cable company to decide which websites will work.

  • Why Is Net Neutrality So Important?

    Net Neutrality has made the Internet an unrivaled environment for free speech, civic participation, innovation, opportunity, press freedom and much more. It prevents online discrimination and gives any individual, organization or company the same chance to share their ideas and find an audience.

  • How Is Net Neutrality at Risk?

    The FCC’s proposal would let a handful of giant Internet 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.

  • What Can We Do About It?

    To ensure decision-makers hear from millions of Internet users and not just a few big companies, Free Press is mounting an all-out campaign to organize public support for Net Neutrality. If we succeed, the open Internet will continue to thrive as a space shared and shaped by its millions of users.

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

     

    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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    • Diverse Voices

       

      Through Voices for Internet Freedom, a network we co-lead with the Center for Media Justice, we will amplify the voices and visibility of people of color in debates over the future of the Internet. We’ll continue to work closely with groups like ColorOfChange and the National Hispanic Media Coalition that represent communities of color, and we’ll unite them with both D.C.-based public interest groups and media justice organizations outside the Beltway, like the Media Mobilizing Project and the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc.

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    • Activist Groups

       

      Free Press is dramatically expanding our reach by partnering with mass online mobilization groups and influential online communities. More than 100 powerful organizations, including every major consumer group, Avaaz, CREDO Action, Daily Kos, Demand Progress, MoveOn.org and reddit, joined our letter to the FCC demanding that the agency adopt rules that ban online discrimination and blocking.

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    • Innovators, Investors, Internet Companies

       

      Free Press recognizes that those doing business bring an important voice to the debate over the future of the Internet. While we do not take money from businesses, we work with Engine Advocacy and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute to educate and amplify the voices of Internet innovators and investors. Hundreds of companies — including 150 startups, smaller companies like Etsy and Kickstarter and even tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter — have already submitted pro-Net Neutrality comments to the FCC. What’s more, more than 100 prominent venture capitalists and major investors wrote the FCC in support of Net Neutrality.

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    • Artists, Musicians, Actors

       

      The Internet has enabled artists to find vast new audiences. Without access to high-speed Internet on a level playing field, writers, YouTube stars and documentary filmmakers alike will be relegated to the margins. The fight to protect Net Neutrality has galvanized artists across the spectrum, including cartoonists and comedians. Free Press and allies like the Future of Music Coalition, Revolutions Per Minute and the Writers Guild of America are partnering to rally the creative community to stand up for the open Internet. In May, a diverse group of artists, musicians and actors filed a joint letter opposing the FCC’s pay-to-play proposal.

  • Making Noise Inside and Outside Washington

     

    The Summer to Save the Internet is a huge organizing and education effort. Free Press will turn out crowds to all kinds of events, including FCC hearings. We’ll support actions like those we helped spark on May 15, when we held a big rally outside the FCC’s headquarters and inspired protests in 20 other cities around the country. In July we held rallies in Los Angeles and San Francisco outside Obama fundraisers to push the president to stand up for Net Neutrality. In upcoming weeks we’ll encourage activists to create their own actions and will organize a range of events — 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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  • Using the Internet to Save the Internet

     

    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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  • At the FCC

     

    Free Press is a proven advocate at the FCC, and we’ve built a foundation of policy expertise on Net Neutrality. We’re 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. As a result, more people — more than a million — commented on this proposal than on any other in the agency’s history. Millions more signed petitions urging the FCC to scrap its plan. 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 used 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 proved 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.

  • Political Pressure in Congress and Beyond

     

    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 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, 37 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 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 rally more politicians to the cause and to get pro-Net Neutrality resolutions passed at the city and state levels. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has already passed a pro-Net Neutrality resolution and many other politicians throughout the country are speaking out. 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

     

    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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