More than 20 groups on BattleForTheNet.com have generated over one hundred thousand signatures and hundreds of tweets to key policymakers in support of a functional FCC
Groups will hold a Reddit AMA from 1-3pm EDT on Thursday to promote the Battle for the Net action and answer questions on net neutrality and recent broadband developments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2021
Contact: Mark Stanley, [email protected]
As an opening salvo to ensure Title II open internet protections—which were repealed by the Trump FCC under former Chairman Ajit Pai in 2017—are reinstated and that affordable broadband is made available to all Americans, more than 20 organizations joined forces to launch a grassroots activism effort at BattleForTheNet.com last month. The action has driven over 100,000 signatures and hundreds of tweets to key members of the Biden administration calling for the appointment of a fifth FCC commissioner. Crucially, the action makes clear whoever is nominated and confirmed by the Senate must be an advocate for the public interest and not have ties to the telecom industry.
Currently, millions are without reliable internet access and people desperately need online access to health information and services. The impacts of the digital divide have been especially devastating during the pandemic, particularly to low-income communities and communities of color. But with the FCC deadlocked 2-2, these problems can’t be addressed until President Biden nominates, and the Senate confirms, a fifth commissioner.
Individuals from the groups Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, Public Knowledge, Open Technology Institute, Free Press Action, United Church of Christ, OC Inc., Presente.org, and Stanford Law’s Center for Internet and Society will also be holding a Reddit AMA from 1-3pm EDT on Thursday, April 8. Participants will answer questions on the need for a functional FCC and recent developments including Biden’s proposed infrastructure package, the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, and the latest on California’s state net neutrality law.
“The fact that high speed broadband is an essential service is beyond dispute. The Biden administration has rightly recognized this by proposing billions in its infrastructure package to increase high speed internet access. It’s now time for President Biden to ensure the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the broadband market, is fully staffed and prepared to fight on behalf of the public instead of siding with the telecom industry,” said Mark Stanley, director of operations for Demand Progress. “Recent years have shown that the public is prepared to engage in massive online activism to ensure a free and open internet. Activists are watching and have made clear they expect a public-interest minded nominee to the FCC. We urge the Biden administration to listen to these voices and quickly nominate a commissioner who will help restore Title II open internet protections and ensure affordable high speed internet access for all.”
“Nearly 80 million people don’t have adequate broadband at home — with poor families and people of color disproportionately disconnected. More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘unacceptable’ doesn’t begin to describe this situation. The FCC needs a fifth commissioner to, among many other things, reclassify broadband internet as a Title II service, restore crucial protections that rightly treat broadband as an essential modern-day utility, and return the right of users to control their online experience free of discrimination by powerful internet-access providers,” said Heather Franklin, Campaign Manager at Free Press Action.
“It’s the FCC’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans have broadband access. The agency has a history of regulating broadband, our essential communications service of the 21st century, and authority from Congress to do so under the Communications Act. When the FCC ceded this field under Chairman Pai, it abandoned both its duty to regulate broadband and protect consumers. With so many people lacking affordable, reliable, and robust broadband, we urge the Biden administration to quickly fill the vacant commissioner seat at the FCC so the Commission can resume its traditional role of ensuring broadband access to all Americans,” said Greg Guice, Government Affairs Director at Public Knowledge.
“Appointing the right person to the FCC is a key opportunity for Biden to score a big win for the flourishing of the Internet early in his presidency. America needs an FCC champion who will restore Net Neutrality, crack down on abusive telecom practices, and work to ensure millions of poorly connected or disconnected Americans receive affordable high speed access,” said Matt Hatfield, Campaigns Director at OpenMedia.
“The Federal Communications Commission has an incredibly important agenda on its plate: implementing Congress’ program to grant $50 monthly subsidies so that low-income people can afford broadband during the pandemic; responding to last week’s Supreme Court decision which permits massive media consolidation; a country stripped of net neutrality protections. We urge President Biden to move quickly to appoint a fifth FCC Commissioner. We cannot wait until summer for this seat to be confirmed; these decisions cannot wait,” said Cheryl A. Leanza, policy advisor of the United Church of Christ’s media justice ministry, OC Inc.
“The pandemic has made it even more evident how our nation’s long history of systemic racism has plagued our communities. This health crisis has left many who were already underserved with little to no access to the resources and services they need to survive. With much of our world now in a new digital reality, it is obvious to see the critical utility internet access continues to be,” said Matt Nelson, Executive Director of Presente.org, the nation’s largest Latinx digital organizing group. “President Biden has the responsibility to appoint an FCC commissioner who prioritizes the public interest and will keep the Internet at a level playing field for everyone — protecting and expanding an unparalleled engine for democracy, organizing, employment, information, and opportunity for Latinx and migrant communities.”
“These 100,000+ actions should make one thing absolutely clear to the Biden Administration: We will not abide another Ajit Pai whose goal is to make Verizon and Comcast happy. People are watching and expect the President to nominate someone who will fight for them at the FCC, who will reinstate net neutrality, and will ensure broadband access for all,” said Caitlin Seeley George, Director of Campaigns and Operations at Fight for the Future.
“There’s never a good time for the FCC to be deadlocked, but now is a particularly bad time. The digital divide has become a full-blown public health crisis, as internet connectivity is now a requirement for jobs, education, social distancing, and getting vaccinated. We need the FCC at full capacity to address this crisis, to close the digital divide, and to protect consumers. The American people cannot afford to wait any longer. President Biden needs to nominate a fifth FCC commissioner,” said Joshua Stager, deputy director, Open Technology Institute.
BattleForTheNet.com has long been a grassroots hub for information and action regarding net neutrality, and has been at the center of some of the biggest days of online activism in history. That includes the historic Internet Slowdown Day, in which millions called for net neutrality and successfully convinced the FCC it had the support to install real protections.
Organizations participating in this Battle for the Net action are: Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, Free Press Action, American Family Voices, California Clean Money Action Fund, Center for Popular Democracy Action, Common Cause, Daily Kos, Friends of the Earth Action, MediaJustice, OpenMedia, Other98, People For the American Way, Presente Action, Progress America, Public Citizen, RootsAction.org, Social Security Works, The Nation, The Zero Hour, United Church of Christ, OC Inc., Watchdog.net, Win Without War
Participants in today’s Reddit AMA are:
- Heather Franklin, Campaign Manager, Free Press Action
- Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs, Public Knowledge
- Cheryl Leanza, Policy Advisor, United Church of Christ, OC Inc.
- Chris Lewis, President & CEO, Public Knowledge
- Matt Nelson, Executive Director, Presente.org
- Claire Park, Policy Program Associate, Open Technology Institute
- Caitlin Seeley George, Director of Campaigns and Operations, Fight for the Future
- Ryan Singel, Open Internet Fellow, Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society
- Josh Stager, Deputy Director, Open Technology Institute
- Mark Stanley, Director of Operations and Senior Strategist, Demand Progress