Published May 2017
Right now, the FCC is trying to gut the fundamental right to a free and open internet. In April 2017, Trump’s FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, announced plans to undo rules that protect free speech on the internet and allow giant internet providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon to control what you see, do, and say online. Net neutrality is the basic principle that your internet provider must treat all data (e.g. the websites you go to for news, to watch TV shows, to submit a homework assignment, etc.) the same online.
The time to act is now. The FCC will be accepting comments on its proposed rollback of these rules until July 17. Americans need to pressure the FCC and Congress to show that the public won’t stand for this handout to big cable companies. This toolkit contains materials for organizations to support the fight for net neutrality.
Why does this matter to you, your organization, or your members?
- Organizing: Net neutrality allows any person or organization to share their thoughts over the internet, bypassing the traditional gatekeepers. For any political group or activist, the end of net neutrality could limit their ability to make their voice heard on the internet.
- Economic Opportunity: Net neutrality allows any business, especially small, innovative companies and startups, to compete on equal footing with big corporations, without having to pay more to reach their audiences.
- Bridging the Digital Divide: The current net neutrality rules promote access and affordability and help ensure that a tiered version of the internet is not created, where only individuals who can afford it have access to all of the information online. These rules helps that people of color, rural communities, and other historically marginalized communities take advantage of the full power of the internet to get an education, find a job, or access healthcare.
Tool Kit Contents
Net Neutrality Primer
What is net neutrality? Why is it under threat? Why does that matter?
- Net neutrality is the basic principle that your internet provider should treat all information the same. This is what has made the internet such a powerful tool for political organizing, education, and business.
- Strong net neutrality rules ensure everyone online has equal opportunity to carry out essential functions such as furthering education, enrolling in health care, and applying for a job.
- Without net neutrality, large internet service providers gain control of the market, edging smaller providers that serve rural communities out. Without access to affordable internet access, rural communities will fall further behind.
- Net neutrality is particularly crucial to communities of color because it allows people to bypass traditional media gatekeepers and tell their own stories online, challenging mainstream media narratives and dangerous stereotypes.
- Republicans and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai want to roll back net neutrality, which means your internet provider, such as Comcast, Verizon or AT&T, would be able to control what websites or applications you’re able to access, or charge you more to visit specific sites.
- FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has continuously favored corporations over consumers. Repealing net neutrality is just another favor for industry giants at the expense of the American people.
- The FCC chairman even suggested industry could write its own net neutrality rules, without a strong authority to review or enforce them. It gives internet providers the ability to do what they want, regardless of the consequences. Companies could even shut down free speech and mobilization online.
- In February 2015, the FCC passed a rule that treats broadband internet like a common carrier, just like phone lines. This means that companies that bring internet into your home aren’t allowed to control the content you receive; they can’t block it or slow it down.
- The FCC put rules in place to protect net neutrality, and allow free and open access to all websites by anyone who uses the internet. Millions of people voiced their support for these rules. Because of Chairman Pai’s plan to sell out to companies like Comcast and Verizon, the FCC and Congress must hear from millions of Americans again! We have to defend the rules now, or risk being silenced online.
- President Trump has already called the media “enemy of the American people.” His FCC chairman is now trying to shut down free speech and dissent online by killing net neutrality.
- Republicans in Congress say they will pass weak legislation that will let your internet provider create fast lanes and charge companies more to use them, slowing down or restricting your access to websites online that can’t afford to pay these fees.
- Ending net neutrality will make it harder for new companies to succeed and for new voices to be heard online. It will only line the pockets of giant internet providers like Verizon and Comcast, and make them the gatekeepers to what you see, do, and say on the internet.
- Net neutrality allows all movements and people to mobilize and communicate freely online. We need your support to win the battle for the net again, or everyone and every movement risks being silenced online!
Drive Comments to the FCC and Congress
We need to drive as many comments as possible to the FCC between now and July 17 in support of net neutrality and against this gift to big corporations.
Direct your members to these ready-made tools to take action now!
- Battle for the Net: Tool to send comments to the FCC and Congress
- DearFCC.org: Customizable comments to the FCC
- Gofccyourself.com: Comment portal for the FCC
- Save the Internet: Petition and background on net neutrality
- Protect Net Neutrality: Petition to FCC
We need to make sure Congress sees, hears and feels the opposition to Pai’s plan from their constituents. Use the Battle for the Net tool and encourage your members to bring up net neutrality in calls, emails, and town halls!
Outreach and Education Tools
- John Oliver segment on net neutrality (Last Week Tonight) – May 7, 2017
- The Antidote to Authoritarianism (The Atlantic) – May 8, 2017
- Trump’s FCC chairman wants to hand the Internet over to big corporations (Washington Post) – April 26, 2017
- Consumers and innovators will lose if we kill net neutrality (Mashable) – April 26, 2017
- Public Knowledge Net Neutrality Blog
Net neutrality has been supported by a wide range of groups. Below are a few recent letters:
- Letter from nearly 200 public interest groups in support of net neutrality
- Letter from 800 startups businesses and entrepreneurs in support of net neutrality
- Letter from female senators on the importance of net neutrality to women
Sample Social Media
Feel free to use these, repurpose, or modify them to fit your organization. Link these to one of the call to action tools in the Taking Action section above.
- Keep our #internet free from the control of corporations that will choose profit over our free speech. Link
- Trump and @AjitPaiFCC ‘s attack on #NetNeutrality is here – if they succeed, the internet as we know it will be over. Link
- Without #NetNeutrality online activism could be limited and censored. Help us save the open internet for the sake of our democracy. Link
- Don’t let @ATT, @Comcast, and @Verizon control what you do and say online. Protect #NetNeutrality. Link
- More than 4 million people voiced support for #NetNeutrality. Tell @AjitPaiFCC to leave our rules alone. Link
- Net neutrality is crucial for free speech and to help activists of all kinds make their voices heard. Protect the internet from big business and show your support for net neutrality now! Link to a call to action
- We’re now facing one of the most serious threats we’ve seen to our ability to connect and communicate in a generation. If Trump and his FCC Chairman are able to undo Net Neutrality, companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon will be able to decide who is heard and who isn’t. Tell the FCC you support net neutrality. Link
- 4 million people made their voices heard in the historic battle against big telecom in support of the FCC’s Open Internet Order. This year, these strong rules are getting ambushed on all sides, from the Republican-led FCC and lobbyists in Congress, to the Trump administration. Help us protect free speech on the internet. Link
- Net neutrality helps the little guy – organizers, businesses, and individuals – compete on the internet. Trump’s FCC is trying to end this and let cable companies decide what you say and do on the internet. Tell them to protect net neutrality and free speech now! Link
About the Net Rights Coalition
The Internet Rights coalition is an informal group of 50+ public interest organizations that support a free and open internet. It includes netroots and grassroots organizers, university research centers, social justice groups, and legislative advocacy and policy organizations. If you have any questions about this toolkit or want to get more involved, contact Dan Lebiednik at Freedman Consulting, LLC (firstname.lastname@example.org).