Big cable and phone companies in the US have been trying to take away net neutrality for well over a decade now. The first big battles to protect an open Internet were in 2005 and then again in 2014, when due to an unprecedented Internet-based pressure campaign, President Obama resisted the lobbyists and his FCC put decent rules in place. But as soon as Trump’s new FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai - a former lawyer for Verizon - got the coveted Chair’s job, he announced he would gut net neutrality for real this time.
The many groups, coalitions, and tech businesses once again sent in a record number comments directly to the FCC demanding they keep the current rules in place. But even though the campaign generated the most comments received on any issue in history, Pai charged forward. It was clear the fix was in.
As the vote got closer, campaigning groups started to send messages of outrage directly to Congress - especially to Republicans. As the critical vote approached, groups amped up the engagement, doing more phone calls, tweets, and letters to editor. We’re proud that in addition to the popular platform BattleForTheNet, many of the groups doing engagement on this campaign used New/Mode’s tools . BattleForTheNet did impressive mobilization across different platforms like Reddit, Etsy, KickStarter, Vimeo, Patreon, Speedtest, Bit Torrent - all these popular websites pushed people to call Congress. OpenMedia was one of the main groups using our tools, including our powerful Letter-to-The-Editor tool, generating important media opinion pieces (like this one) in Newspapers.
The vote was likely always going to go the way Verizon’s lawyer, er, the FCC chair, wanted. After BattleForTheNet and others drove 2,000,000 comments to the FCC, 5,000,000 emails, and an astonishing 1,300,000 phone calls to members of congress, they still only listened to the corporate lobbyists. But all this people power was able to pry some Republicans off to begrudgingly support Net Neutrality, which is an opening the next phase of the campaign is building on. Campaigners used this fairly unwinnable moment of truth to grow the movement and engage people who have never been politicized: youth, politicians, web companies, and celebrities that can now still be tapped into. They also turned “net neutrality” from a concept only a few telecom nerds knew about, to something 83% of Americans support. On to the next battle.
Early signs are looking positive as campaigners only need one more vote to overturn the FCC’s ruling in the Senate!
Open Media. People Demanding Action. Popular Resistance. Fight for the Future. FreePress. Center for Media Justice. DemandProgress.
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