With the latest version of California's net neutrality bill unveiled by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener this week, open internet defenders are prepared to publicly pressure and shame state lawmakers who plan to appease powerful internet service providers (ISPs) by voting against the proposal instead of standing with their constituents.
The advocacy group Fight for the Future urged Californians to demand that their representatives vote in favor of SB 822, which will be considered by the state Assembly's Communications and Conveyance Committee before going the Assembly votes on it later this month.
Noting that ISPs like AT&T and Comcast have poured millions of dollars into their campaign to defeat SB 822, Fight for the Future on Thursday unveiled its scorecard for California lawmakers, showing constituents where their Assembly members stand on net neutrality.
BREAKING: The California #NetNeutrality bill #SB822 has been reintroduced and is moving again. We've launched a new scorecard, and are preparing crowdfunded billboards, to ensure California Assemblymembers can't hide. https://t.co/UH42QSxKXF pic.twitter.com/UfMJmWLIrH
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) August 9, 2018
As of this writing, just 11 of the Assembly's 80 members have committed to voting for the newly-unveiled SB 822. But Fight for the Future is promising to mount billboard campaigns targeting representatives who vote against net neutrality protections.
"California assemblymembers won't get a second chance and they need to decide immediately to either side with the public or be willing to pay the price for catering to big telecoms," said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future.
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Advocates in California began fighting for state-level net neutrality protections after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), led by President Donald Trump-appointed chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, voted last December to repeal net neutrality protections, putting the panel at odds with more than 80 percent of the American public.
Fight for the Future has been fighting since before the FCC's vote to protect net neutrality, which keeps internet service providers (ISP) from giving faster service to wealthy internet companies while independent journalists, entrepreneurs, and organizers fight to reach their audiences on the internet
The group's campaign in California has already proven successful, with Assemblyman Miguel Santiago signing on as co-author of SB 822 weeks after working to gut the bill—after Fight for the Future raised $15,000 to put up a billboard in his district urging him to support net neutrality.
"The massive online outcry that led to his conversion should be a warning to the rest of the Assembly: don't mess with net neutrality unless you're prepared to feel your constituents' wrath," said Greer.
California's decision on net neutrality would have wide-reaching effects on the regulations for the entire country, setting an example for other states whose residents want comprehensive state-level protections.
"SB 822 will prevent Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast from turning the internet into a playground they control and using their monopoly power to interfere with what apps, services, websites and devices we choose to use," said Greer.