WASHINGTON — In less than 24 hours, a diverse coalition of Net Neutrality supporters will launch a nationwide “Day of Action” to mobilize people to demonstrate their support for the open-internet protections the Trump administration is trying to overturn.
The Federal Communications Commission docket for public comments on the existing Net Neutrality rules has already surpassed all records, with more than 5.6 million comments from individuals, organizations, companies and other interested parties — and many more to come as a result of Wednesday’s day of action.
The previous record for public involvement in an agency proceeding was set during the last Net Neutrality rulemaking, which culminated in the 2015 ruling to reclassify internet-access providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. That decision followed a lengthy public-comment period in which 4 million people contacted the FCC, with the vast majority urging the agency to pass strong Net Neutrality rules.
Earlier this year, President Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, launched a new rulemaking process to undermine the essential open-internet protections his predecessor established. The initial comment period in this proceeding ends on July 17, but people can continue to submit replies and send input to the FCC up until the agency schedules a vote, expected later this year. A large majority of the comments submitted in the current proceeding support preserving the Title II rules.
This is in keeping with recent public polling on the issue, which shows a strong majority of people support Net Neutrality protections. On Monday, Civis Analytics released the results of a nationwide poll that showed Americans of all political parties (73 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of independents) overwhelmingly value the principles of Net Neutrality and want to maintain the existing open-internet rules. The results of the poll are available here (PDF).
So far more than 70,000 websites, online services and internet users are participating in the day of action, including companies like Airbnb, Amazon, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Netflix, OKCupid, reddit, Spotify and Twitter.
The day of action, led by Free Press Action Fund, Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, will focus on mass participation as public-interest groups across the country activate their members and major web platforms provide visitors with tools to mobilize locally, contact Congress and submit more pro-Net Neutrality comments to the FCC.
Free Press Action Fund Campaign Director Candace Clement made the following statement:
“The existing Net Neutrality protections put internet users in the driver’s seat and keep big cable and phone companies from controlling what you see and do online. That’s why millions of people support Title II: It prevents these companies from charging us pricey tolls to access the online content we want — and from throttling, blocking or discriminating against the apps, websites and services of our choosing.
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this FCC, it’s that Chairman Ajit Pai has consistently voted against pro-internet user, pro-competition positions in favor of handing control of the network to a small number of powerful companies. As the polling shows, people of all political stripes understand that corporations like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon should not be allowed to control the internet.
“At its core Net Neutrality is about preserving everyone’s free-speech rights online. That’s why we’re rolling up our sleeves and taking action on July 12 — to let the world know that you can’t have an open and inclusive internet without real Net Neutrality protections.”
Day-of-action organizers have created a suite of action tools to ensure that decision-makers hear the voices of real people, and not just those of industry lobbyists.
Learn more at BattlefortheNet.com.