How We Fought for Internet Freedom in 2018
Let’s face it. 2018 was a dumpster fire. Congress gutted Internet privacy rules. The FCC repealed net neutrality. Companies like Amazon, Salesforce, and Microsoft were exposed collaborating with government agencies that violate human rights like ICE and Border Patrol.
But the movement for Internet freedom is stronger than it has ever been. These attacks on our basic rights have sparked unprecedented backlash from across the political spectrum, and we’ve channeled that Internet outrage into real political power. As we head into a new year, it’s increasingly clear that we are not just trying to “save the Internet.” We’re fighting the battles that will determine what kind of Internet we want to have for future generations. Our tiny team are experts at harnessing the power of the Internet to win against all odds — and it’s all powered by our 2 million+ members. Here’s just some of what we did this year:
A Huge Win for Net Neutrality in the Senate
Our #OneMoreVote and Red Alert for Net Neutrality campaigns went viral as millions of people emailed and called their Senators to support a CRA resolution to restore net neutrality protections. In a stunning bipartisan response, Republicans and Democrats passed the CRA resolution by a 52–47 margin. It’s hard to describe how significant this is in shifting the ground that we are fighting on going forward. We put the telecom industry on the defense, and shattered the notion that Republicans would never support strong net neutrality protections.
Pressure for Net Neutrality Mounts in the House
The CRA was always a hail mary, but we’ve used it as a powerful tool to get lawmakers on the record in support of strong net neutrality rules, which will be game changing for the fights ahead. We drove millions of phone calls, emails, and tweets, organized hundreds of protests and in-district meetings, and kept the issue in the news week after week. We turned up the heat with hard-hitting campaigns and mobile billboards calling out representatives who are standing in the way of change. In the end, we got 182 lawmakers to come out in support, a historic number.
Business Owners Rally for Net Neutrality
During Small Business Week 2018, we rallied more than 7,000 small businesses to sign on to an open letter to Congress in support of net neutrality. We organized dozens of letter delivery events at Senate offices, helping to secure support for the open Internet among key lawmakers and educate the public about how the loss of net neutrality will affect mom and pop businesses.
California Passes a Strong Net Neutrality Law
We fought an epic battle against AT&T and Comcast in California and managed to pass the nation’s strongest net neutrality law through the state legislature with bipartisan support. Telecom lobbyists were furious about the victory — they spent millions trying to stop us, and were even caught funding robo calls to senior citizens trying to sink the bill. But we flooded legislators with phone calls, crowdfunded for billboards and ads, put up a “legislative scorecard,” and won big.
We Launched a Groundbreaking Data Privacy Campaign
With the help of tech, legal, and human rights experts we launched SecurityPledge.com, a campaign calling on tech companies to take concrete steps to protect their users in the wake of widely reported abuses like the harvesting and manipulation of Facebook data conducted by Cambridge Analytica. The site asks Internet users to add their name to an open letter calling on tech companies to take the data security pledge and make needed changes to ensure their users’ data isn’t used against them. Popular companies like Adblock Plus, DuckduckGo, Boingboing, Brave and Helm have already taken the pledge to secure their user’s data.
We Organized Nationwide Protests against Microsoft
More than 300,000 tech workers and supporters pleaded with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella to stop selling government agencies dangerous technology that contributes to human rights violations. In July, we upped the pressure by organizing letter delivery events at Microsoft offices in Cambridge,Tampa, New York City, Portland, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
We Shined a Spotlight on Salesforce’s Contract with US Border Patrol
When it came to light that Salesforce was contributing towards human rights violations at the US/Mexico border, we organized thousands of peoples and dozens organizations who are Salesforce customers to tell the company to cancel their contract with Border Patrol. When they ignored us, we demanded their attention. Fight for the Future, Mijente, and other human rights groups made headlines with high profile protests highlighting Salesforce’s contract with US Border Patrol during the company’s flagship conference, Dreamforce. We paused those protests as an act of good faith after Salesforce executives offered to meet with activists to discuss the contract. Ultimately, representatives from affected communities were able to meet with Salesforce and share their stories.
We Amplified the Voices of US Veterans for Net Neutrality
The net neutrality debate has too often been framed as a partisan issue. But it’s not. We’ve focused on showing how the repeal of net neutrality affects real people, including US Veterans. Working with a US Army vet, we helped organize an open letter from nearly 5,000 US Veterans calling for their lawmakers to support the CRA discharge petition to restore net neutrality protections.
We Supported First Responders when Verizon Failed Them
While Santa Clara County firefighters were fighting some of the biggest forest fires in America’s history, Verizon was throttling their internet speeds, preventing firefighters from providing crisis response and emergency services to those in need. We called upon firefighters, EMTs and other first-responders to stand up for their rights, with thousands answering that call.
We Made a Special Delivery to a Net Neutrality Debate
Representative Steve Knight (R — CA) took over $70,000 in campaign donations from big telecoms. So we backed up the truck (literally!) and unloaded these campaign donations at the site of his re-election debate. Ultimately, Steve Knight chose big telecom’s interets over his voters … and his voters chose a different candidate to represent California’s 25th district.
We organized hundreds of net neutrality protests, meetings, and events
Fight for the Future leveraged our online organizing tools to activate net neutrality supporters nationwide to attend in-person net neutrality protests at key lawmaker’s offices. With the help of our partners at Demand Progress, we worked with passionate activists from Florida to Maine to Kansas to Alaska and states in-between to show members of Congress just how much people care about protecting the open Internet. We organized protests, face-to-face meetings with lawmakers, and creative stunts to keep the pressure on and win over lawmakers’ support.
We Made Net Neutrality a Voting Issue
A midsummer poll revealed that 57% of American voters said that net neutrality was an important factor in deciding whom to vote for. So we built VoteForNetNeutrality.com, a website that helped people all across America register to vote and keep tabs on which candidates supported true net neutrality protections. This was the first time a tech policy issue bubbled up into the mainstream enough to be seen as a potential election issue, a huge head for the battles ahead.
We Put Our Best Face Forward
We wanted to see what people who support net neutrality look like … and tens of thousands of people snapped a selfie as part of our DeadlineForNetNeutrality.com campaign, showing off their diverse backgrounds and determination to build a better future. Celebrities Evangeline Lilly, Tom Morello and Alyssa Milano promoted this important cause, while some of the biggest names in tech — including Reddit, Etsy, Sonos and Postmates — lent their support for the initiative as well.
We Made Noise … a LOT of Noise
To date, we’ve managed to send nearly 20 million emails in support of net neutrality to Congress. We’ve also made almost 2 million phone calls, and sent hundreds of thousands of messages by text. Over 8,000 websites have stood with us. And Americans of all stripes — activists, veterans, first responders, and business owners — have made it clear that net neutrality is a cornerstone of our present and future society.
But we’re just getting started
2019 presents us with bigger challenges than ever before, but we’re ready to rumble with anyone who threatens our freedom and privacy on the Internet. We’ll fight to restore net neutrality protections. We’ll push back against the impending Sprint/T-Mobile mega-merger. We’ll call for transparency and accountability into how our data is used (and misused!) by large corporations like Facebook. But we can’t do it alone. We need your help to secure our digital rights. So please visit BattleForTheNet.com to contact your lawmakers, then make a contribution to help fund the fight.