Two major grassroots campaigns show not only the depth of public concern about protecting the Internet from the FCC under Ajit Pai, they’ve reaffirmed EFF’s ongoing work to push back and make sure the Internet remains free.
In March, Congress sparked widespread outrage by voting to repeal the broadband privacy protections set in place with the FCC’s Open Internet Order, which established net neutrality. Abolishing those privacy safeguards opened the door for companies like Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner to monetize Internet users’ data and expose private communications while restricting options for recourse. The resulting frustration led to several widely-reported calls to turn the tables on lawmakers and expose their data.
Let's turn that attention to defending the open web while we still can.
Two large campaigns launched on GoFundMe to crowdfund the purchase of Congress’ web histories. Activist Adam McElhaney’s Purchase Private Internet Histories campaign sought to obtain information on “legislators, congressmen, executives, and their families and make them easily searchable” raising over $200,000 from concerned supporters. Actor Misha Collins, known for his role on the television series Supernatural, raised over $85,000 with his Buy Congress' Internet Data campaign in response to lawmakers granting ISPs permission to share and commodify private information. While EFF does not condone doxxing individuals, the sentiment was clear: if Congress members casually strip away rights, Internet users are eager to take them to task.
Though Mr. McElhaney’s efforts continue, he directed the proceeds of that campaign to EFF’s work fighting for net neutrality and innovation. Similarly, Mr. Collins divided the proceeds from Buy Congress' Internet Data between EFF and the ACLU to help support our digital privacy work. We are grateful to both of the organizers and all of the participants for helping to ensure that EFF can continue fighting for online civil liberties utilizing our legal work, activism and technology expertise.
Our fundamental ability to explore ideas and communicate with one another is shaped by the future of the Internet, and we are in the midst of a major battle to protect it. Shortly after the repeal of the broadband privacy rules, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made the first moves to dismantle net neutrality itself. The response to the broadband privacy vote proves that we as a community are motivated to protect rights online, so let's turn that attention to defending the open web while we still can. Submit comments to the FCC through EFF’s tool at DearFCC.org. Talk to your peers about the open web and why it's so important; perhaps John Oliver can help. And of course, consider donating to support organizations working on the front lines!
EFF has already begun efforts to rebuild ISP broadband privacy protections at the U.S. state level; we're working on more than a dozen state bills right now including significant moves in California, we've submitted a letter to Hawaii's lawmakers, and we've testified before the Oregon state legislature. This is just the beginning and we need your help. It took a major online uprising to win net neutrality and the privacy protections that came with it in 2015, but we did it once and we can do it again.