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.”