Day Of Action For Net Neutrality Breaks Records

by Staff Reporter / Jul 12, 2017 / comments

Day Of Action For Net Neutrality Breaks Records

Nationwide, millions of people are getting online this week to have their voices heard in a grassroots battle to keep the internet free. Over the past six months, several of the largest Internet service providers and mobile phone networks have lobbies the Trump Administration to change FCC regulations to end "Net Neutrality" regulations that guarantee that all users are able to access the web equally. The administration has publicly said they intend to follow these recommendations, causing millions of internet users, small businesses and freedom of speech advocates to protest.

Wednesday saw a surge of activity in efforts to demonstrate online for keeping the internet free -- and the traffic is not showing signs of slowing down -- that organizers are still scrambling to document everything that has happened but so far through the BattleForTheNet.com site alone (not including the Internet Association’s page or other aligned efforts) has seen:

 NOTE: these numbers represent only a portion of the final totals, and due to the massive numbers, comments and emails will be delivered over several days:

  • More than 10 million people saw the protest messages on participating websites
  • 3,450,000+ emails to Congress (which will be delivered over coming days)
  • More than 1.6 million comments to the FCC (breaking the Sept. 10, 2014 “Internet Slowdown” record for most in a single day)
  • #NetNeutrality trended on both Facebook and Twitter
  • More than 125,000 websites, people, artists, online creators, and organizations signed up to participate in the initial call to protest
  • Celebrities flocked to support the effort including Pearl Jam,Wil Wheaton, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Blues Traveler, Steven Fry, Mark Ruffalo, Laura Jane Grace, Kendrick Sampson, Amanda Palmer, Ted Leo, Samantha Bee, and many more.
  • Broad participation from every corner of the Internet: from online gaming communities to librarians to real estate sites to grassroots organizations to independent musicians.
  • NOTE: The volume of participation was so high that the FCC has been “rate limiting” submissions into their docket -- there are an enormous number of comments queued up that will be submitted into their system before the July 17 deadline, as fast as their system can handle them. The same is true for emails to Congress members, which will be delivered in the days to come.

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, one of the leading groups behind the protest, issued the following statement:

“Today is a historic moment when the Internet is realizing it’s power—with massive amounts of creative activism spreading to every corner of the Internet, from the smallest and weirdest nooks and crannies of the web to the most popular websites on earth. And this doesn’t end today—this protest is the kickoff of a sustained campaign to keep the pressure on lawmakers and the FCC to do the right thing. This is just our opening salvo, and it’s a massive one.

“The FCC needs to listen to the public, not just lobbyists from big cable companies. No one wants companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to have control over what we can see and do online, or to have to pay them extra fees to access the content we want. The Internet is outraged by censorship and corruption, this is our moment to to defend net neutrality and fight for the future of freedom of expression.

“Lawmakers in Washington, DC need to understand that if they stand idly by and allow the FCC to gut these rules that are overwhelmingly supported by voters from across the political spectrum, they will be seen as enemies of the Internet and enemies of free speech.”

Pierce Stanley, technology fellow at Demand Progress, which co-led the effort:

“Today, the largest web platforms in the world, scrappy activist organizations, and individuals from across the political spectrum came together online and in-person to make their voices heard.

“Americans took to the internet to stand up for the rights to communicate freely, to organize, and to innovate online.  Ajit Pai’s plan to undermine net neutrality and stifle online speech would endanger these ways we use the internet, and could even make it harder -- or impossible -- to organize protests like today’s.

“Ajit Pai may think big cable’s interests are more important than the public’s, but today’s activism makes it clear that few outside the boardrooms of Comcast or AT&T agree. A large majority of Americans of all political persuasions support net neutrality, and their voices were heard loud and clear. Today was the first step in taking back the internet from Pai and his cable cabal.”

Candace Clement, campaign director for Free Press Action Fund, which co-led the effort:

“People used the internet to save the internet today. That’s because the Trump FCC’s push to destroy Net Neutrality's legal foundation isn't fooling anyone .

“We know that the open internet is critical for marginalized communities that corporate media have misrepresented; that it’s essential for free speech and political organizing online; and that tech entrepreneurs need an open network to survive just as much as working families do .

“Today we all joined together to stop FCC Chairman Pai’s quest to destroy the Net Neutrality safeguards that are crucial to everyone’s right to connect and communicate. And we’re going to stick with this fight for as long as long as it takes to preserve the open internet protections the majority of Americans demand.”

Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice which co-led the effort, said:

“Today, thousands of people of color and civil rights leaders raised our voices to say loud and clear: we won't let our internet become like cable TV, a white, middle class, and male bastion where we are shouted down daily. We'll keep joining with allies of all kinds across the lines of difference to fight for our digital voice, and ensure that an open Internet protected by Title II net neutrality delivers political power and economic opportunity for those long excluded from both. The stakes are too high to do anything less.”

The effort is led by many of the grassroots groups behind the largest online protests in history including the SOPA blackout and the Internet Slowdown. Media attention for online mobilizations tends to focus on the big names participating, but there is a much more interesting story: a coalition of Internet activists huddled over their laptops in coworking spaces, home offices, and coffee shops, who are the ones who came up with the idea, called for, and organized the protest, and have since been working together to lay the groundwork, build the technical tools, and create the educational resources that make it possible for large and small websites to participate in these mass days of action. It’s a grassroots effort involving dozens of volunteers working together in Slack channels, outreach spreadsheets, endless email chains, organizing in online communities and forums, and an enormous amount of creativity and digital elbow grease.

The list of sites and apps participating has grown so quickly it’s almost impossible to keep up, but participants include Automattic (Wordpress), eBay, Rosetta Stone, Pinterest, Amazon, Mozilla, Netflix, Etsy, Kickstarter, Soundcloud, Dropbox, Spotify, Redfin, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Medium, Y Combinator, GitHub, Pantheon, Opera, Bittorrent Inc., Shapeways, Nextdoor, Stack Overflow, Funny Or Die, Dreamhost, and CREDO Mobile, Goldenfrog, Fark, Chess.com, Namecheap, DuckDuckGo, Checkout.com, Sonic, Ting, ProtonMail, O’Reilly Media, SlashDot, Dribble, Dischord, SourceForge, and Union Square Ventures. Organizations participating include Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, Demand Progress, Center for Media Justice, EFF,  Internet Association, Internet Archive, World Wide Web Foundation, Creative Commons, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Greenpeace, Common Cause, ACLU, Rock the Vote, American Library Association, Daily Kos, OpenMedia, The Nation, PCCC, MoveOn, OFA, Public Knowledge, OTI, Color of Change, MoveOn, Free Software Foundation, Internet Creators Guild, the Women’s March, and many others.