UPDATE: Historic Day Of Action For Net Neutrality Breaks Records: More than 2 Million Comments to FCC, Millions of Emails and Phone Calls to Congress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 13, 2017
Media contact: Pierce Stanley, 202.350.0454, [email protected]

UPDATE: Historic day of action for Net Neutrality breaks records: more than 2 million comments to FCC, millions of emails and phone calls to Congress

More than 125,000 websites, Internet users, and organizations participated in a massive online protest against the FCC’s plan to gut protections that keep the web free from censorship, throttling, and extra fees. Protesters gathered in DC and showed up at Congressional district offices, celebs weigh in

Nearly all of the most popular websites on the web participated in a historic Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality yesterday to oppose the FCC’s plan to slash Title II, the legal foundation for net neutrality rules that protect online free speech and innovation. A flood of web platforms small and large like Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, Spotify, 4chan, Airbnb, Amazon, Mozilla, OK Cupid, Vimeo, Tinder, Expedia, Pornhub, Imgur, Yelp, Spotify, and Soundcloud – along with a vast array of online communities from every corner of the Internet: gaming forums, YouTube creators, subreddits and more – displayed prominent protest messages to their users, encouraging them to take action by contacting the FCC and Congress through tools like BattleForTheNet.com that make it easy for Internet users to make their voices heard.

See PHOTOS, IMAGES, and DESCRIPTIONS of how participants protested here: http://imgur.com/a/vYVet

SEE A SAMPLING OF VIDEO COMMENTS here: https://vimeo.com/225341994/852009671a

There has been such a surge in activity – and the traffic is STILL coming in – 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) we’ve seen:

IMPORTANT NOTE: these numbers STILL represent only a portion of the final totals, and due to the massive numbers, comments and emails will be delivered over several days.  We will release additional updates as we continue documenting what has happened:

  • Tens of millions of people saw the protest messages on participating websites
  • Over 5 million emails to Congress (which will be delivered over coming days)
  • More than 2 million comments to the FCC (nearly tripling our Sept. 10th 2014 “Internet Slowdown” record for most in a single day)
  • 124,000 phone calls to Congress
  • #NetNeutrality trended on both Facebook and Twitter
  • Protesters went in person to more than 20 Congressional offices 
  • 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 JamWilcoWil WheatonTim RobbinsSusan SarandonBlues TravelerSteven FryMark RuffaloLaura Jane GraceKendrick SampsonAmanda PalmerTed LeoSamantha 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. See a gallery here.
  • 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.
  • Facebook, Google, and Dropbox three of the largest Internet companies, came out publicly with strong statements in support of the current FCC rules. This is significant – especially given Facebook’s previous opposition to certain net neutrality rules, notably in India.

Pierce Stanley, technology fellow at Demand Progress, one of the leading groups behind the protest, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday, 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, delivering over 2 million comments to the FCC and over 3 million emails and phone calls to Congress in support of Title II net neutrality.

“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 the ways we use the internet, and could even make it harder — or impossible — to organize protests like yesterday’s.

“Ajit Pai may think big cable’s interests are more important than the public’s, but yesterday’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. Yesterday’s protest was the first step in taking back the internet from Pai and his cable cabal.”

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, which co-led the effort (pronouns: she/hers): 

“This was 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.”

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

“People used the internet to save the internet yesterday. 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​.

“Yesterday 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 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:

“Yesterday, 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.

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