Press Releases: July 2017
FCC Plan to Scuttle Open Internet Rule 'Disastrous' For the Future of the Internet, Experts Say
Washington, D.C.—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the FCC to keep in place net neutrality rules, which are essential to prevent cable companies like Comcast and Verizon from controlling, censoring, and discriminating against their subscribers’ favorite Internet content.
In comments submitted today, EFF came out strongly in opposition to the FCC’s plan to reverse the agency’s 2015 open Internet rules, which were designed to guarantee that service providers treat everyone’s content equally. The reversal would send a clear signal that those providers can engage in data discrimination, such as blocking websites, slowing down Internet speeds for certain content—known as throttling—and charging subscribers fees to access movies, social media, and other entertainment content over “fast lanes.” Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T supply Internet service to millions of Americans, many of whom have no other alternatives for high-speed access. Given the lack of competition, the potential for abuse is very real.
EFF’s comments join those of many other user advocates, leading computer engineers, entrepreneurs, faith communities, libraries, educators, tech giants, and start-ups that are fighting for a free and open Internet. Last week those players gave the Internet a taste of what a world without net neutrality would look like by temporarily blocking and throttling their content. Such scenarios aren’t merely possible—they are likely, EFF said in its comments. Internet service providers (ISPs) have already demonstrated that they are willing to discriminate against competitors and block content for their own benefit, while harming the Internet experience of users.
“ISPs have incentives to shape Internet traffic and the FCC knows full well of instances where consumers have been harmed. AT&T blocked data sent by Apple’s FaceTime software, Comcast has interfered with Internet traffic generated by certain applications, and ISPs have rerouted users’ web searches to websites they didn’t request or expect,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. “These are just some examples of ISPs controlling our Internet experience. Users pay them to connect to the Internet, not decide for them what they can see and do there.”
Nearly 200 computer scientists, network engineers, and Internet professionals also submitted comments today highlighting deep flaws in the FCC’s technical description of how the Internet works. The FCC is attempting to pass off its incorrect technical analysis to justify its plan to reclassify ISPs so they are not subject to net neutrality rules. The engineers’ submission—signed by such experts as Vint Cerf, co-designer of the Internet’s fundamental protocols; Mitch Kapor, a personal computer industry pioneer and EFF co-founder; and programmer Sarah Allen, who led the team that created Flash video—sets the record straight about how the Internet works and how rolling back net neutrality would have disastrous effects on Internet innovation.
“We are concerned that the FCC (or at least Chairman Pai and the authors of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) appears to lack a fundamental understanding of what the Internet’s technology promises to provide, how the Internet actually works, which entities in the Internet ecosystem provide which services, and what the similarities and differences are between the Internet and other telecommunications systems the FCC regulates as telecommunications services,” the letter said.
“It is clear to us that if the FCC were to reclassify broadband access service providers as information services, and thereby put the bright-line, light-touch rules from the Open Internet Order in jeopardy, the result could be a disastrous decrease in the overall value of the Internet.”
For EFF’s comments:
For the engineers’ letter:
For more about EFF’s campaign to keep net neutrality:
AirBnB, Amazon, ACLU, Google, Etsy, Y Combinator Among Organizations Standing Up To Government Plan To Let ISPs Block Content, Charge Fees for ‘Fast Lanes’
San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a broad coalition of user advocacy groups and major technology companies and organizations joined forces today to protest the FCC’s plan to toss out net neutrality rules that preserve Internet freedom and prevent cable and telecommunications companies from controlling what we can see and do online.
Without net neutrality, Internet service providers (ISPs) can block your favorite content, throttle or slow down Internet speeds to disadvantage competitors’ content, or make you pay more than you already do to access movies and other online entertainment.
To show just how important net neutrality is to free choice on the Internet, EFF and a host of other organizations are temporarily halting full access to their website homepages today with a prominent message that they’re “blocked.” Only upgrading to “premium” (read: more expensive) service plans will allow users access to blocked sites and services, the message says. (Don’t worry, the sites aren’t really blocked. Clicking on the message will take you to a link for DearFCC, our tool for submitting comments to the FCC and making your voice heard.)
“We’re giving subscribers a preview of their Internet experience if the FCC dismantles the current net neutrality rules,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon will be able to block your favorite content or steer you to the content they choose—often without you knowing it. Those without deep pockets—libraries, schools, startups and nonprofits—will be relegated to Internet slow lanes.”
The online community—gig economy site AirBnb, maker site Etsy, file storage provider DropBox, and hundreds more—have joined EFF and other user advocates today to deliver a message to the FCC: we want real net neutrality protections.
“It’s our Internet and we will defend it,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. “We won’t allow cable companies and ISPs, which already garner immense profits from customers, to become Internet gatekeepers.”
For EFFs Day Of Action page:
For more about net neutrality:
Amazon Fails To Follow, Much Less Lead in Privacy Best Practices, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Fail to Promise They Will Stand Up to FBI Gag Orders
San Francisco, California—While many technology companies continue to step up their privacy game by adopting best practices to protect sensitive customer information when the government demands user data, telecommunications companies are failing to prioritize user privacy when the government comes knocking, an EFF annual survey shows. Even tech giants such as Apple, Facebook, and Google can do more to fully stand behind their users.
EFF’s seventh annual “Who Has Your Back” report, released today, digs into the ways many technology companies are getting the message about user privacy in this era of unprecedented digital surveillance. The data stored on our mobile phones, laptops, and especially our online services can, when aggregated, paint a detailed picture of our lives—where we go, who we see, what we say, our political affiliations, our religion, and more.
“This information is a magnet for governments seeking to surveil citizens, journalists, and activists. When governments do so, they need to follow the law, and users are increasingly demanding that companies holding their data enact the toughest policies to protect customer information,” said EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman.
EFF evaluated the public policies at 26 companies and awarded stars in five categories. This year EFF included two new categories: “promises not to sell out users,” and “stands up to NSL gag orders.” The first reflects our concern about the stated goal of several members of government to co-opt tech companies to track people by their immigration status or religion. We awarded stars to companies that prohibit developers and third parties from capturing user data to assist governments in conducting surveillance.
We also awarded stars to companies that exercise their right to make the government initiate judicial review of gag orders that prohibit them from publicly disclosing they have received a National Security Letter (NSL). NSLs—secret FBI demands for user information issued with no oversight from any court—permit the FBI to unilaterally gag recipients, a power EFF believes is unconstitutional. Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have failed to promise to step up and exercise the right to have the government put NSL gag orders before a court.
Nine companies earned stars in every category this year: Adobe, Credo, Dropbox, Lyft, Pinterest, Sonic, Uber, Wickr, and Wordpress. Each has a track record of defending user privacy against government overreach and improved on their practices to meet the more stringent standards in this year’s Who Has Your Back.
Two tech companies lagged behind in the industry: Amazon and WhatsApp, both of which earned just two stars. EFF’s survey showed that while both companies have done significant work to defend user privacy—EFF especially lauds WhatsApp’s move to adopt end-to-end encryption by default for its billion users around the world—their policies still lag behind. Online retail giant Amazon has been rated number one in customer service, yet it hasn’t made the public commitments to stand behind its users’ digital privacy that the rest of the industry has.
AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, and Verizon scored the lowest, each earning just one star. While they have adopted a number of industry best practices, like publishing transparency reports and requiring a warrant for content, they still need to commit to informing users before disclosing their data to the government and creating a public policy of requesting judicial review of all NSLs.
“The tech industry as a whole has moved toward providing its users with more transparency, but telecommunications companies—which serve as the pipeline for communications and Internet service for millions of Americans—are failing to publicly push back against government overreach,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. “Both legacy telcos and the giants of Silicon Valley can and must do better. We expect companies to protect, not exploit, the data we have entrusted them with.”
For the full report:
For more on Who Has Your Back:
For more on government surveillance: