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We're Suing the FCC to Save Net Neutrality

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  • WASHINGTON -- On Thursday, nearly 100 organizations sent a letter urging President Obama and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to reject any rules that would harm the open Internet. Wheeler has been under intense pressure to abandon his proposed rules, which reportedly would allow Internet service providers to prioritize content from websites and services that are willing to pay an extra fee.  

    “Instead of restoring this important principle of nondiscrimination, the Commission’s proposal would make things even worse,” reads the letter, which was signed by Access, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Media Justice, ColorOfChange, Common Cause, Consumers Union, CREDO Action, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, among many others. “Internet service providers should not be in the business of picking winners and losers online … Instead, the Commission must propose and adopt legally sound rules that keep the Internet an open and nondiscriminatory platform for speech and innovation.”

    Also on Thursday, Free Press launched a website coordinating a May 15 day of action to save the Internet. The suite of on- and offline actions — including a rally in front of the FCC that morning — will coincide with the FCC’s next open meeting, where commissioners will vote on whether to proceed with Chairman Wheeler’s proposal.

    The site may15.savetheinternet.com is an online hub for public protest. It enables people to RSVP for the May 15 rally, petition and call the FCC, add action banners to their own websites, reach out to Congress via social media and learn more about what other activists and organizations are doing around the country.   

    On May 15, thousands of activists, organizations and companies will participate online and off to oppose the FCC’s plan to kill the open Internet and allow rampant discrimination online.

    Free Press Campaign Director Josh Levy made the following statement:

    “2014 is a defining year for the future of the Internet. The drumbeat leading up to May 15th — and the day of action itself — are part of a larger grassroots campaign to protect Net Neutrality and make sure control of the Internet doesn’t fall into the hands of a few powerful corporations.

    “Chairman Wheeler's pay-for-play proposal has catalyzed a nationwide movement to safeguard the open Internet. On May 15th, we’ll harness the public’s outrage and take this protest to the doorstep of the FCC. We won’t relent until the agency abandons this proposal completely and puts in place lasting protections for the open Internet.”

  • WASHINGTON -- On Thursday, Free Press led a coalition of organizations — including the ACLU, Avaaz, Common Cause, Color Of Change, CREDO, DailyKos, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, the Harry Potter Alliance, MoveOn, RootsAction and the Sierra Club's SierraRise community — that delivered more than 1 million petitions to the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to restore Net Neutrality.

    “Just two weeks after a federal court threw out the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules, we delivered petitions from more than 1 million people who support the freedom to connect and communicate online,” said Free Press Internet Campaign Director Josh Levy. “It’s time for the agency to correct its past mistakes, reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, and restore Net Neutrality for good. Net Neutrality is the reason all of these petitions even exist, and it's so important to protect everyone’s ability to say what they want and go where they want online without an Internet service provider interfering.”

    The groups also delivered a letter signed by more than 80 organizations echoing the need for the FCC to take swift action.

    To read the letter, go to: http://www.freepress.net/resource/105623/dear-fcc-reclassify-broadband.

    "The FCC has the power to defend our right to communicate online, and to protect the public from predatory business practices from giant ISPs determined to invent new ways to charge us even more for even less,” said ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “Chairman Wheeler must take action now to reverse a decade of failed policies built on industry giveaways, and reclassify broadband so corporate gatekeepers like Verizon and Comcast don't get to determine whose voices are heard and whose are silenced.”

    A federal appeals court struck down the FCC’s Open Internet Order earlier this month after Verizon challenged the Commission’s legal authority to implement and enforce Net Neutrality rules. But the court laid out a clear path to put the FCC — and Net Neutrality — back on solid footing, signaling to the FCC that reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service is necessary to issue Net Neutrality rules.

    Avaaz Campaign Director Emma Ruby Sachs echoed this sentiment.  “We could be on the verge of the apocalypse of the free, democratic Internet,” she said. “Unless the FCC's Tom Wheeler acts now, the Internet could soon be controlled by the richest 1 percent.”

    “Hundreds of thousands of people have spoken,” said Common Cause Program Director Todd O’Boyle. “Enough with third ways and fourth ways. Enough with endless litigating. It’s time for action. It’s time for the FCC to protect consumers, innovation and free speech online by reclassifying broadband.”

    CREDO Political Director Becky Bond added, “The FCC effectively killed Net Neutrality back in 2010 when it issued rules that would clearly be overturned in court and now that day has finally come. The FCC under Chairman Julius Genachowski lacked the political courage to stand up to Verizon and AT&T and pass strong Net Neutrality rules. But now there's a new chair, and Tom Wheeler has a chance to prove that the FCC is more than just another government agency wholly captured by the industry it regulates."

    Petitioners emphasized the importance of Net Neutrality rules in protecting innovation and the future of the Internet.

    "If Internet service providers are free to discriminate against traffic, they will get to choose what we see and when,” said Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal. “Big corporations will get the fast lanes while innovative startups will wither in obscurity. The dynamic environment that facilitates economic growth and social interaction will become a victim to entrenched corporate greed. We cannot stand idly by while the Internet is destroyed by powerful corporations that refuse to invest their massive profits into network capacity.”

    Others highlighted the open Internet’s role in protecting free speech and creative freedom.

    "The FCC should read the comments from the people who signed our petition,” said RootsAction Campaign Coordinator David Swanson. “Americans passionately oppose what they widely view as a threat to censor the most democratic means of communication left to us. Other media have been largely monopolized for private profit at public expense, and at the expense of open communication. Protecting the Constitution of a government of the people requires protecting the Internet from a similar fate."

    PEN American Center Executive Director Suzanne Nossel added, “An open Internet is essential for creative freedom and the free flow of ideas. We cannot allow the gatekeepers of the net to selectively censor or promote information based on greed. History shows us that the most enduring and lasting literature — from prize-winning novels to political tracts — was not written by those who could afford to pay, but from those who dared to speak their minds.”

    Privacy was also a concern for many of the groups that participated.

    “To violate Net Neutrality, broadband providers would need to monitor what people are doing online, making this a major privacy issue as well,” said Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel and policy advisor of the ACLU. “The speed with which so many people signed the petition shows that this is something that Americans care about.”

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  • WASHINGTON -- As the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees plan upcoming hearings on U.S. surveillance programs and data collection, the StopWatching.Us coalition today announced that it will bring thousands to the nation’s capital to rally against mass surveillance. The mobilization will commence with a lobby day on Fri., Oct. 25 — demanding Congress investigate the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, ban blanket surveillance of telephone and Internet activity, and pursue accountability for any officials who mislead lawmakers and the American people — and culminate in a petition delivery of over 570,000 signatures during the largest-ever rally against mass surveillance on Sat., Oct. 26, the anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act.

    For more information about the rally, go to: rally.stopwatching.us

    For more information about the IndieGoGo campaign, go to: http://igg.me/at/stopwatchingus

    Stop Watching Us: Rally Against Mass Surveillance

    Date: Sat., Oct. 26

    Time: 12–3 p.m.

    Location: Capitol Hill

    “Since the revelations in June about the NSA’s spying programs, more than 550,000 people have spoken out against mass government surveillance," said Josh Levy, Internet campaign director of Free Press. "But we cannot stop there. It's going to take millions of people — including Congress — to hold the NSA accountable and to change the laws that have enabled these spying programs in the first place."

    "This rally builds on the grassroots passion that launched protests in 80 cities on July 4th,” said Ben Doernberg, Chair of Restore the Fourth. “The latest AP poll found that ‘close to 60 percent of Americans oppose the NSA's collection of data on telephone and Internet usage’, and we’re counting on that public support to make this event a success. Today we’re launching an Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund the rally, and volunteers across the country will be helping organize rideshares and buses so as many people as possible can rally in DC.” Perks for the Indiegogo campaign include an original The Guardian PRISM article signed by Glenn Greenwald and copies of the Pentagon Papers signed by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

    Saturday’s rally, in view of the Capitol Building, will feature speakers and performers from across the political spectrum. “The diversity of this coalition should surprise no one: freedom and privacy are fundamental American values that transcend the left-right divide,” said Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office.

    The StopWatching.Us coalition, which The Atlantic Wire called “perhaps the most diverse collection of groups in the modern history of American politics,” is comprised of more than 100 organizations, companies, and public figures. Coalition members include Access, ACLU, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Code Pink, Demand Progress, EFF, Fight for the Future, Free Press, FreedomWorks, the Libertarian Party, Mozilla, Public Knowledge, reddit, Restore the Fourth, Students for Liberty and ThoughtWorks.

    “Four months ago, we received clear evidence that governments don’t see the Internet the way we do,” said Charlie Furman of Demand Progress. “They seem to think an “open Internet” means an Internet where our communications are open for the taking. By scraping and storing information about all of us they’ve done more than violate our privacy – they’ve undermined our democracy by keeping secrets from and lying to the public over and over again.”

    “The more we learn about the NSA’s programs, the clearer it becomes that this mass surveillance system is in fact making the Internet, and the world, a less safe place for everyone,” said Evan Greer of Fight for the Future. “We don’t need to wait for more abuses to be exposed. It’s time for people to take action to defend the Internet we love and protect our most basic rights.”

    "The Obama administration has repeatedly emphasized these programs only target ‘foreigners,’ but fundamental human rights apply regardless of citizenship,” said Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access.  “The defense of the fundamental rights of people around the world is a cornerstone of American values, and these programs undermine that."

    To speak to a rally organizer, or a member of the coalition, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.716.1953 or christina@fitzgibbonmedia.com.

    More information about the rally is available on the StopWatching.Us coalition website, http://rally.stopwatching.us.

  • WASHINGTON — Within 48 hours of the launch of StopWatching.Us, more than 100,000 people have demanded a congressional investigation into the National Security Agency's spying activities and full accountability for those involved.

    A diverse coalition of privacy, Internet freedom and civil liberties advocates —including Mozilla, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Free Press Action Fund — created the website in response to revelations about the NSA's domestic surveillance programs.

    "The response to StopWatching.Us testifies to Americans' deep discomfort with the NSA's privacy intrusions," said Josh Levy of the Free Press Action Fund. "We must be able to speak and assemble without Big Brother watching everything we do. The freedom to connect and communicate simply can't survive in a surveillance state. The U.S. government needs to respect the privacy rights of all Americans."

    Organizations and individuals from across the political spectrum, from the Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party Association to the American Library Association to MoveOn.org, have joined the call for a congressional investigation.

    "The 100,000-signature mark is a significant milestone, but we’re just getting started," said Alex Fowler, Mozilla's chief privacy officer. "The next step is to build even more momentum and start delivering these petitions to our elected officials to make sure these voices are heard. We're also expanding our campaign to people from around the world who have just as much at stake in the future of the open Internet."