In order to confront what they consider a frontal attack on the Internet by the Republican Party and the powerful telecommunications industry, defenders of net neutrality joined with some of the web's most influential companies on Tuesday in announcing a new campaign and global day of action designed to defend rules enshrined by the Federal Communications Commission just two years ago.
"The FCC’s plan to dismantle net neutrality will unfairly pad the bottom lines of Comcast and the rest of Big Cable, while undermining the public’s ability to freely communicate, organize, and innovate."
—Mark Stanley, Demand ProgressUnder President Donald Trump, and his FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, the hard won victory to classify the Internet as a public utility and the establishment of rules to protect net neutrality—which stipulate that all web traffic must be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs)—have come under renewed threat in recent months.
But with the announcement of the "Battle for the Net" campaign—spearheaded by Fight for the Future, the Free Press Action Fund, and Demand Progress—a large and growing coalition of concerned citizens, public interest organizations, online advocacy groups, and businesses are declaring jointly that the open internet and the concept of net neutrality will be fiercely defended from those seeking to wall off innovation, undermine privacy, and exert hegemonic control of the web in the name of profits.
"The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online," reads the call to action on the coalition's website. "If they get their way, they'll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees."
Announcing the day of action—which will take place on July 12—the group urged people to "come together" to protect the Internet from the FCC's attack. In order to do so, the coalition explained, the groups involved will mobilize their members and major web platforms will provide special online tools while urging their users to contact members of Congress and the FCC.
"The Internet has given more people a voice than ever before, and we’re not going to let the FCC take that power away from us," said Evan Greer, Fight for the Future's executive director. "Massive online mobilization got us the strong net neutrality protections that we have now, and we intend to fight tooth and nail to defend them. Politicians in Washington, D.C. need to learn that net neutrality is not a partisan issue and Internet users will not tolerate these attacks on our basic rights—we will come together to protect the web as an open platform for free expression and exchange of ideas."
Alongside the numerous progressive advocacy groups and civil libertarians, web-based companies—including Amazon, Vimeo, Kickstarter, and Mozilla—argue that without net neutrality, the Internet as people have come to know it will cease to exist.
"Net neutrality is vital to a healthy Internet," declared Denelle Dixon, Mozilla's chief legal and business officer, in a statement. "It protects free speech, competition and innovation online. It's also something a majority of Americans support—76%, according to a recent Mozilla-Ipsos poll. By reverting to a Title I classification for ISPs, the FCC is endangering Americans’ access to a free and open web. The FCC is creating an Internet that benefits ISPs, not users."
And Mark Stanley, communications director of Demand Progress, added: "The FCC’s plan to dismantle net neutrality will unfairly pad the bottom lines of Comcast and the rest of Big Cable, while undermining the public’s ability to freely communicate, organize, and innovate. Every few years, a threat so severe confronts the open internet that people, organizations, and companies from across the political spectrum—including some of the largest online platforms—must band together in common cause to fight back. The FCC's ongoing effort to roll back net neutrality protections represents just such a threat—and on the July 12th day of action, we'll once again use the transformative power of the internet to defend the internet itself."