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The Fate of Net Neutrality Hinges on the House

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In the wake of a historic vote to save Net Neutrality, Free Press Action Fund broadcast live from the RightsCon conference in Toronto with one simple message:

Today we celebrate, but tomorrow we get back to work.

The Senate needed to move quickly to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution overturning the FCC’s disastrous December decision and blazing a path to the restoration of Net Neutrality protections.

Wednesday’s victory in the Senate, which many thought impossible not so long ago, means advocates for a free and open internet now must do the impossible again.

The post-vote livestream kicked off those efforts. Free Press Action Fund President and CEO Craig Aaron set the tone when he called the 52–47 Senate victory “a huge win for Net Neutrality and a huge win for grassroots activists everywhere.”

Craig is right: This was a major victory for grassroots activists overcoming the lobbying efforts of some of America’s most powerful corporations. But these companies have an even stronger lobbying presence in the House of Representatives, where lawmakers will vote on a companion bill.

That’s why, over and over again, our livestream hosts encouraged those viewing at home to sign up for our May 23 campaign strategy call at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Behind the scenes

With all the action seemingly taking place in Washington, D.C., most of the Free Press Action Fund policy team was in Toronto for the annual RightsCon conference, an opportunity to connect with digital-rights advocates from around the world to share stories, collaborate and move forward together with a shared vision of an open, free and secure internet.

But, as always, our team stayed in touch.

In the hours leading up to the vote, the tension was palpable in every conversation about the CRA’s fate. Our staff, allies and activists spent much of the afternoon watching C-SPAN with nervous excitement. Months (really, YEARS) of organizing, strategizing and struggling together led up to this critical moment in the fight for a free and open internet. We were hopeful, but on edge.

That’s why the livestream from RightsCon was so powerful. Our colleagues and friends who had worked so hard organizing phone banks, building relationships, writing policy briefs and lobbying legislators were there, on the air, filled with relief and joy. It was infectious.

We carried the day with three Senate Republicans joining the entire Democratic Caucus in voting to advance the CRA. But as all of the livestream participants emphasized, the battle to restore Net Neutrality is far from over.

So many voices

Right after the Senate vote, Free Press Action Fund’s Dana Floberg (pictured) and Gaurav Laroia went live, interviewing representatives from the Future of Music Coalition, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and even a few advocates from India and the European Union.

The Senate’s passage of the CRA was truly a victory for communities of color. Carmen Scurato of the National Hispanic Media Coalition noted how essential Net Neutrality is to “empowering Latinos and telling our own stories in our own words.”

Wednesday’s vote was also a win for the kind of grassroots creative expression the internet revolution has made possible. Kevin Erickson of the Future of Music Coalition called the vote a “huge victory for musicians, for independent labels, for fans of music and music communities all over this country.”

Nikhil Pahwa, a seasoned Net Neutrality advocate from India, joined the celebration. He noted that India is moving toward adopting some of the strongest open-internet protections in the world and that it’s necessary to have strong safeguards in every country.

“The internet is a global public commons that belongs to all of us,” Nikhil said, “and we need strong Net Neutrality rules everywhere in the world.”

Dana, a policy analyst at Free Press Action Fund, closed out the livestream by looking ahead: “We’re taking this fight beyond the Senate and we’re going to take this energy and use it to propel ourselves forward.”

The next step on that journey is next week’s campaign strategy call, where Free Press Action Fund organizers will join activists from around the country in discussing how we take this campaign to the next level.

Wednesday’s victory marks the first big step toward reinstating the policy that ensures our internet serves the interests of social movements, creative communities and entrepreneurialism.

To win in the House will take exactly what led to victory in the Senate: phone calls, local organizations and businesses speaking out, and in-person meetings with legislators.

Call to action

As of now, 164 House Democrats have signed on in support of the CRA. But we need 218 representatives to get behind the resolution.

The efforts of Team Internet volunteers were crucial in the Senate; this campaign will ramp up its activism in the House in the coming weeks..

Join us as we take the next step by participating in the May 23 campaign strategy call at 8:30 p.m. EST. You can also take action right now by calling your member of Congress and telling them that it’s time to take sides either they’re with the people, or in the pocket of power-hungry telecoms.

Now is the time to make a choice.

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