OUR CRUCIAL SPRING CAMPAIGN IS NOW UNDERWAY
Please donate now to keep the mission and independent journalism of Common Dreams strong.
To donate by check, phone, or other method, see our More Ways to Give page.
California Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law SB 822, the strongest and most comprehensive state-level net neutrality bill in the country. The bill passed the state legislature with overwhelming and bipartisan support, and could unleash a wave of similar efforts in other states, with serious implications in the fight to restore net neutrality nationwide.
"This victory in California is a testament to the power of the free and open Internet to defend itself. And it's a beacon of hope for Internet users everywhere who are fighting for the basic right to express themselves and access information without cable and phone companies controlling what they can see and do online." said Evan Greer (pronouns: she/her), deputy director of Fight for the Future, the digital rights group that played a leading role in passing SB 822 and bringing national attention to the bill. "Despite their army of lobbyists and millions spent lining the pockets of legislators, these companies continue to lose ground in the face of overwhelming cross-partisan opposition to their greedy attacks on our Internet freedom. When all is said and done, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are going to wish they'd never picked a fight with Internet over net neutrality. Other states should follow California's lead, and Congress should pass the joint resolution to reverse the FCC's resoundingly unpopular repeal."
SB 822 becoming law is a major victory for Internet activists who harnessed massive public outcry to pass the bill and a resounding defeat for big telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast, who spent millions to defeat the bill. SB 822 was nearly scuttled by fierce telecom lobbying, but prevailedafter Fight for the Future brought the full force of the Internet down on California legislators, including crowdfunded billboardsand a thousands of phone calls.
Californians will now be protected from giant ISPs like AT&T and Comcast, who will once again be barred from blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. Like the 2015 Open Internet Order that was repealed in 2017, the bill also bans ISPs from charging websites to load for the ISPs subscribers or using the point where data enters the ISPs network to evade net neutrality. Finally, the bill also makes sure that Californians are protected from mega-corporations like the newly minted AT&T-TimeWarner who want to push their content and services on subscribers, while harming all other speakers and companies on the internet.
SB 822 is widely regarded as the best state-level net neutrality bill in the country. That's why AT&T and Verizon fought so hard, even managing to gut the bill in committee in June. But after howls of outrage online from the grassroots, the bill later passed with all the key protections Since California is the world's fifth leading economy, SB 822 hasimplicationsfor the entire nation. Its passage with bipartisan support is expected to bolster efforts in Congress to reverse the FCC's repeal using the Congressional Review Act (CRA.)
Giant Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast poured enormous amounts of money into lobbying and misinformation campaigns to stop SB 822 and managed to gut it once in committee. They funded astroturffront groups, who targeted seniors with misleading robocalls, and ran outrageous Twitter ads generating tweets targeting California assembly members that look like they're from real constituents. One of these groups, CALinnovates, which was paid $200,000 to run dark ads on Facebook and Twitter, even lies about its membership, claiming Uber is a partner when the company denies it.
Fight for the Future recently launched VoteForNetNeutrality.com, an explosive national level campaign focused on pressuring lawmakers to sign on to the CRA resolution ahead of the midterm elections.
Fight for the Future is a group of artists, engineers, activists, and technologists who have been behind the largest online protests in human history, channeling Internet outrage into political power to win public interest victories previously thought to be impossible. We fight for a future where technology liberates -- not oppresses -- us.(508) 368-3026
"Mr. Musk's behavior reveals an apparent indifference towards Twitter's longstanding legal obligations, which did not disappear when Mr. Musk took over the company," says a new letter from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and three of her Democratic colleagues.
Four Democratic U.S. senators have asked Twitter CEO Elon Musk and CEO-Designate Linda Yaccarino to provide information about the social media corporation's "continued disregard for consumer safety" by June 18, the lawmakers announced Monday.
In a letter dated Friday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Ed Markey (Mass.), and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) expressed their concerns that since Musk purchased and assumed control of Twitter in October 2022, the company may have "violated its consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and put consumer privacy and data security at risk."
The letter follows last week's back-to-back resignations of Twitter's former head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, and its former head of brand safety and advertising quality, A.J. Brown.
"Regardless of his personal wealth, Mr. Musk is not exempt from the law, and neither is the company he purchased."
"These departures, following a string of high-profile resignations from Twitter's lead privacy, information security, and compliance officers, raise concerns about Twitter's ability to comply with its legal obligations," the lawmakers wrote. "Twitter had a poor track record of protecting consumer privacy even before Mr. Musk's takeover."
As FTC spokesperson Douglas Farrar explained earlier this year, Twitter in 2011 "agreed to a 20-year consent order over its data security practices and how it uses your private information."
In May 2022, several months before Musk's acquisition of the company was finalized, "the FTC charged Twitter with violating the 2011 order for misusing personal information," Farrar noted. Twitter then "paid a $150 million penalty and entered a new consent order," which "added further provisions to protect consumers' sensitive data."
But as the four Senate Democrats pointed out in their new letter, Musk has "made numerous hasty personnel and product decisions" since he took over Twitter last October, heightening concerns about the company's adherence to the updated FTC agreement.
The resignations and terminations began well before the exits of Irwin and Brown last week, as the quartet observed:
In November 2022, Mr. Musk fired multiple top executives; top security executives resigned; and Mr. Musk fired employees who had criticized him, let go of contractors, and laid off half of the workforce. On November 9, the day before the deadline to submit a report to the FTC, the chief privacy officer, chief information security officer, and chief compliance officer all resigned. Internal messages obtained by The New York Times show that an employee suggested internal privacy reviews of Twitter's products were not occurring as they should under the order. Reports also indicated that the launch of the updated Twitter Blue subscription service "disregarded the company's normal privacy and security review." In April of this year, Mr. Musk also confirmed that over 80% of the workforce had left Twitter since he became CEO.
"These personnel changes, firsthand accounts from employees, and hasty launch of new products raise questions about whether Twitter is able to comply with its obligations under the FTC consent decree," the lawmakers wrote. "In apparent dismissal of concerns regarding reducing his workforce, Mr. Musk's team has said he is 'used to going to court and paying penalties, and was not worried about the risks.'"
"Mr. Musk's behavior reveals an apparent indifference towards Twitter's longstanding legal obligations, which did not disappear when Mr. Musk took over the company," they continued. "One employee highlighted his problematic behavior, stating, 'Elon has shown that his only priority with Twitter users is how to monetize them,' and his personal lawyer Alex Spiro reportedly said, 'Elon puts rockets into space—he's not afraid of the FTC.'"
As a matter of fact, Musk's Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket exploded before reaching space in April, coating a Texas community in ash and provoking fears of negative public health and environmental impacts.
The senators stressed that "regardless of his personal wealth, Mr. Musk is not exempt from the law, and neither is the company he purchased."
"Twitter must meet the requirements it agreed to under the 2011 and 2022 FTC agreements," they added. "If reports about Mr. Musk's actions are correct, it appears that the company may not be doing so."
Citing their concerns, the lawmakers asked Musk and Yaccarino to answer a series of questions about Twitter's privacy practices no later than June 18.
"In particular, the letter asks whether Twitter conducted a privacy and security assessment of Twitter Blue, its paid subscription service, before rolling it out earlier this year," CNNreported Monday. "Under its 2022 consent agreement, Twitter is required to perform such assessments 'prior to implementing any new or modified product.'"
"The letter also asks whether Twitter has maintained a comprehensive cybersecurity program to protect user data since Musk's takeover and whether Twitter has met various reporting requirements, including obligations to report any significant data breaches to the authorities," CNN noted. According to the outlet, the inquiry "could highlight vast legal risks for Twitter and potentially for Musk himself."
The former Republican president's repeated promotion of his properties to the media and other world leaders amounted to "diplomatic malpractice," one ethics official said.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump, who is now running for a second term in the 2024 election, made $82.5 million from his businesses in Ireland and Scotland during his presidency as he embroiled himself in what one watchdog group called "extraordinary conflicts of interest" stemming from his frequent trips to his properties in the two countries while he was in office.
As Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported on Monday, Trump repeatedly promoted his properties to the media and other officials as well as charging U.S. government employees to stay there.
Trump stayed at his Doonbeg golf property in Ireland and his Turnberry and Aberdeen golf resorts in Scotland numerous times, in some cases taking detours to stay there while claiming he did so out of "convenience."
\u201cNEW: Donald Trump made $82.5 million from his businesses in the UK and Ireland while serving as President, a @CREWcrew analysis of his tax returns revealed. That created conflicts of interest and reflected use of the presidency to promote his properties.\nhttps://t.co/DGVZiuyo7J\u201d— Noah Bookbinder (@Noah Bookbinder) 1685974512
The president made those trips after making the unprecedented decision not to divest from his real estate empire, the Trump Organization, CREW noted.
That decision led "to four years of egregious conflicts of interest between his business and the government," said CREW in its new report, with some of the worst arising "around his Doonbeg golf course in Ireland, where he made almost $25 million, and his Turnberry and Aberdeen golf properties in Scotland, which helped him make more than $58 million."
While in Europe for a NATO summit and a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Trump went out of his way to spent two nights at Turnberry, later charging his own Secret Service officers $1,300.
A Freedom of Information Act request showed that during former Vice President Mike Pence's 2019 stay at Doonbeg—which was encouraged by Trump, according to Pence's chief of staff—the resort charged the Secret Service more than $15,000.
The then-president and members of his administration mentioned Turnberry, Doonbeg, and Aberdeen at least 50 times during Trump's four years in office, with Trump referring to Turnberry as "magical" at the NATO summit in 2018 and talking to local officials in Ireland about Doonbeg's impact on the economy in 2019.
He reportedly "boasted" about Turnberry frequently in conversations with former U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, and pushed the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson IV, to lobby for the British Open golf tournament to be held at the resort.
At the time of the latter incident in 2020, Norman Eisen, former special counsel for ethics for President Barack Obama, called Trump's actions "diplomatic malpractice."
"What accountability will there be for the Israeli soldier(s) who opened fire into a Palestinian community and shot a two-year-old in the head?" asked one journalist. "The track record isn't promising."
A two-and-a-half-year-old Palestinian boy shot in the head last week by Israeli forces—who initially denied shooting the toddler—succumbed to his wounds on Monday.
Muhammad Tamimi and his father, Haytham Tamimi, were in their parked car outside their home in Nabi Saleh village near Ramallah in the illegally occupied West Bank of Palestine last Thursday when they came under fire from Israeli troops.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that a preliminary investigation found that two Palestinian resistance fighters fired on the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish—located in the southwestern Samarian Hills north of Ramallah—around 7:30 pm and that IDF troops stationed nearby returned fire, hitting Muhammad Tamimi in the head and his father in the chest.
\u201cAs news was breaking of the father and son having been shot, a claim that Palestinian gunmen were to blame - rather than Israeli soldiers - was quickly shared by army sources, Israeli journalists, & other social media accounts.\u201d— Ben White (@Ben White) 1685781244
Israeli officials initially claimed the Tamimis were shot by "terrorists" before admitting the pair was likely hit by mistake, expressing "regret" over the incident, and stating that the shootings were "being investigated in depth," according toThe Times of Israel.
"The question is," said British journalist and Palestinian rights advocate Ben White, "what accountability will there be for the Israeli soldier(s) who opened fire into a Palestinian community and shot a two-year-old in the head? The track record isn't promising."
About half an hour after the father and son were shot, an IDF jeep "stormed the village and started firing live bullets directly at the houses," according to the Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
ISM said 17-year-old Wissam Tamimi, who was standing on the roof of his family's home, was struck in the head with a sponge-tipped round and suffered a fractured skull.
\u201cPhotojournalist Bilal Tamimi was directly shot at by Israeli forces during an incursion in Nabi Saleh last night, despite identifying himself as a journalist to the soldiers.\n\nThis happened following the shooting of a 2 year old toddler and his father by Israeli soldiers.\u201d— Jalal (@Jalal) 1685694273
After that, three snipers positioned themselves on the roof of one of the shops opposite the citizens' homes and fired live bullets and sponge bombs at anyone who moved, whether inside the houses or on the rooftops. The journalist and volunteer at B'Tselem, Bilal Tamimi, who was wearing a press uniform, helmet, and shield, was wounded after a soldier fired a sponge bomb directly and from a close range which broke his wrist and required surgery for a platinum implant. The house of journalist Bilal Tamimi continued to be targeted with live bullets, gas canisters, and sponge bombs, as a result of which his mother, who had kidney failure, suffocated.
Palestinian medics took Haytham Tamimi to a hospital in Ramallah, while an Israeli military helicopter rushed the critically injured toddler to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel. The child was placed on life support until he was pronounced dead on Monday morning.
\u201cPalestinians bid farewell to the child Mohammed Tamimi (2) who died today after Isr*eli forces shot him in the head with live ammunition with his father on June 1 in Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. #FreePalestine\u201d— Sarah Hassan (@Sarah Hassan) 1685984917
On Friday, Israeli occupation forces returned to Nabi Saleh and forced many of the village's residents out of their homes, not allowing them to return until they withdrew at dawn on Saturday. At approximately 4:30 pm, Israeli troops shot Noura Tamimi in the stomach with a sponge-tipped round, causing severe convulsions that required hospitalization. Kafa Tamimi, who is seven months pregnant, choked on tear gas after Israeli troops fired a canister of the chemical agent through her window.
On Saturday night, occupation forces invaded the village yet again, storming homes, beating residents, and terrorizing the community.
"The incitement for this attack stems from the settlers' repeated attempts to intimidate the villagers, with the most recent incident occurring just last week," resident Manal Tamimi told ISM, referring to Jewish residents of the apartheid colony of Halamish, also known as Neve Tzuf.
"In light of these distressing events, we urgently call upon the international community to ensure the protection of this small village, with a population not exceeding 650 people," Tamimi added. "It is imperative that international humanitarian law and international treaties are upheld, and immediate action is taken to halt the repeated attacks by both the occupation forces and settlers. Over the past decade alone, these aggressions have tragically resulted in the martyrdom of five young individuals from the village."
For years, Nabi Saleh was the site of weekly Friday demonstrations against Israeli settler colonization, land theft, and seizure of the village's spring.
This year alone, around 150 Palestinians—both resistance fighters and civilians—have been killed by Israeli occupation forces and settlers. This figure includes 28 children. Palestinian militants, meanwhile, have killed about 20 Israelis so far this year.