The opening round of a series of negotiations over a proposed revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began this week in Washington, D.C. between trade representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Already it is clear that the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has ignored our specific recommendations (to say nothing of USTR Robert Lighthizer's personal promises) about making the negotiations more open and transparent. Once again, following the failed model of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the USTR will be keeping the negotiating texts secret, and in an actual regression from the TPP will be holding no public stakeholder events alongside the first round. This may or may not set a precedent for future rounds, that will rotate between the three countries every few weeks thereafter, with a scheduled end date of mid-2018.
Although EFF has been keeping an open mind about the agreement until we have a better idea of what it will contain, the secrecy of its first negotiation round augurs poorly for what is to come. Already, the usual copyright lobbyists have descended upon the negotiations, sending a letter to the USTR this week which directly opposes the inclusion of a "fair use" copyright exception in the agreement, as EFF had suggested. This "creative industry" letter relevantly states:
The three-step test strikes the appropriate balance in copyright, and any language mandating broader exceptions and limitations only serves as a vehicle to introduce uncertainty into copyright law, distort markets and weaken the rights of the small and medium businesses and creators we represent. For that reason, we strongly urge USTR to not include “balance” language similar to what appeared in the TPP or any reference to vague, open-ended limitations.
But more than two dozen public interest groups, including EFF, Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Public Citizen, and OpenMedia, have written a letter of our own, in which we counter this argument and raise some of our own key concerns. Aside from the fact that we have been shamefully shut out of the negotiations, without any opportunity to see the texts that are being negotiated on our behalf, our letter also warns against the inclusion of one-sided copyright and digital trade provisions in NAFTA, such as those that had previously been part of the failed TPP:
We also share concerns about the suitability of trade mechanisms to create prescriptive policies that govern Internet use, cultural sharing and innovation. In general, developments in technology happen quickly, and trade processes that do not keep pace with technological and social advancement may inhibit each of our respective governments from making necessary and appropriate changes to related rules, especially with regard to intellectual property regulations that impact our rights to culture and free expression.
The letter will be delivered to the trade ministries of the three countries today. You can read it in full below.
In the wake of Charlottesville, both GoDaddy and Google have refused to manage the domain registration for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is “dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism.” Subsequently Cloudflare, whose service was used to protect the site from denial-of-service attacks, has also dropped them as a customer, with a telling quote from Cloudflare’s CEO: “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.”
We agree. Even for free speech advocates, this situation is deeply fraught with emotional, logistical, and legal twists and turns. All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with. Those on the left face calls to characterize the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group. In the Civil Rights Era cases that formed the basis of today’s protections of freedom of speech, the NAACP’s voice was the one attacked.
Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.
Earlier this week, following complaints about a vitriolic and abusive Daily Stormer article on Heather Heyer—the woman killed when a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd of anti-racism demonstrators—GoDaddy told the site’s owners that they had 24 hours to leave their service. Daily Stormer subsequently moved their domain to Google’s domain management service. Within hours Google announced that it too was refusing Daily Stormer as a customer. Google also placed the dailystormer.com domain on “Client Hold”, which means that Daily Stormer’s owner cannot activate, use or move the domain to another service. It’s unclear whether this is for a limited amount of time, or whether Google has decided to effectively take ownership of the dailystormer.com domain permanently. Cloudflare, whose service was used to protect the site from denial-of-service attacks, subsequently dropped them as a customer.
Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.
We at EFF defend the right of anyone to choose what speech they provide online; platforms have a First Amendment right to decide what speech does and does not appear on their platforms. That’s what laws like CDA 230 in the United States enable and protect.
But we strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare did here was dangerous. That’s because, even when the facts are the most vile, we must remain vigilant when platforms exercise these rights. Because Internet intermediaries, especially those with few competitors, control so much online speech, the consequences of their decisions have far-reaching impacts on speech around the world. And at EFF we see the consequences first hand: every time a company throws a vile neo-Nazi site off the Net, thousands of less visible decisions are made by companies with little oversight or transparency. Precedents being set now can shift the justice of those removals. Here’s what companies and individuals should watch for in these troubling times.
Content Removal At the Very Top of The Internet
Domain registrars are one of many types of companies in the chain of online content distribution—the Internet intermediaries positioned between the writer or poster of speech and the reader of that speech. Other intermediaries include the ISP that delivers a website’s content to end users, the certificate authority (such as Let’s Encrypt) that issues an SSL certificate to the website, the content delivery network that optimizes the availability and performance of the website, the web hosting company that provides server space for the website, and even communications platforms—such as email providers and social media companies—that allow the website’s URLs to be easily shared. EFF has a handy chart of some of those key links between speakers and their audience here.
The domain name system is a key part of the Internet’s technical underpinnings, which are enabled by an often-fragile consensus among many systems and operators. Using that system to edit speech, based on potentially conflicting opinions about what can be spoken on the Internet, risks shattering that consensus. Domain suspension is a blunt instrument: suspending the domain name of a website or Internet service makes everything hosted there difficult or impossible to access. The risk of blocking speech that wasn’t targeted is very high.
Domain name companies also have little claim to be publishers, or speakers in their own right, with respect to the contents of websites. Like the suppliers of ink or electrical power to a pamphleteer, the companies that sponsor domain name registrations have no direct connection to Internet content. Domain name registrars have even less connection to speech than a conduit provider such as an ISP, as the contents of a website or service never touch the registrar’s systems. Registrars’ interests as speakers under the First Amendment are minimal.
If the entities that run the domain name system started choosing who could access or add to them based on political considerations, we might well face a world where every government and powerful body would see itself as an equal or more legitimate invoker of that power. That makes the domain name system unsuitable as a mechanism for taking down specific illegal content as the law sometimes requires, and a perennially attractive central location for nation-states and others to exercise much broader takedown powers.
Another lever that states and malicious actors often reach for when seeking to censor legitimate voices is through denial-of-service attacks. States and criminals alike use this to silence voices, and the Net's defenses against such actions are not well-developed. Services like Cloudflare can protect against these attacks, but not if they also face direct pressure from governments and other actors to pick and choose their clients. Content delivery networks are not wired into the infrastructure of the Net in the way that the domain name system is, but at this point, they may as well be.
These are parts of the Net that are most sensitive to pervasive censorship: they are free speech’s weakest links. It’s the reason why millions of net neutrality advocates are concerned about ISPs censoring their feeds. Or why, when the handful of global payment processors unite to block certain websites (like Wikileaks) worldwide, we should be concerned. These weak links are both the most tempting, and most egregiously damaging places, to filter the Net.
The firmest, most consistent, defense these potential weak links can take is to simply decline all attempts to use them as a control point. They can act to defend their role as a conduit, rather than a publisher. And just as law and custom developed a norm that we might sue a publisher for defamation, but not the owner of a printing press, or newspaper vendor, we are slowly developing norms about who should take responsibility for content online. Companies that manage domain names, including GoDaddy and Google, should draw a hard line: they should not suspend or impair domain names based on the expressive content of websites or services.
Have A Process, Don't Act on the Headlines
Other elements of the Net risk less when they are selective about who they host. But even for hosts, there’s always a risk that others—including governments—will use the opaqueness of the takedown process to silence legitimate voices. For any content hosts that do reject content as part of the enforcement of their terms of service, or are pressured by states to secretly censor, we have long recommended that they implement procedural protections to mitigate mistakes—specifically, the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability. The principles state, in part:
Before any content is restricted on the basis of an order or a request, the intermediary and the user content provider must be provided an effective right to be heard except in exceptional circumstances, in which case a post facto review of the order and its implementation must take place as soon as practicable.
Intermediaries should provide user content providers with mechanisms to review decisions to restrict content in violation of the intermediary’s content restriction policies.
Intermediaries should publish their content restriction policies online, in clear language and accessible formats, and keep them updated as they evolve, and notify users of changes when applicable.
These are methods that protect us all against overbroad or arbitrary takedowns. It’s notable that in GoDaddy and Google’s eagerness to swiftly distance themselves from American neo-Nazis, no process was followed; CloudFlare’s Prince also admitted that the decision was “not CloudFlare’s policy.” Policies give guidance as to what we might expect, and an opportunity to see justice is done. We should think carefully before throwing them away.
It might seem unlikely now that Internet companies would turn against sites supporting racial justice or other controversial issues. But if there is a single reason why so many individuals and companies are acting together now to unite against neo-Nazis, it is because a future that seemed unlikely a few years ago—where white nationalists and Nazis have significant power and influence in our society—now seems possible. We would be making a mistake if we assumed that these sorts of censorship decisions would never turn against causes we love.
Part of the work for all of us now is to push back against such dangerous decisions with our own voices and actions. Another part of our work must be to seek to shore up the weakest parts of the Internet’s infrastructure so it cannot be easily toppled if matters take a turn for the (even) worse. These actions are not in opposition; they are to the same ends.
The beginning of the school year is right around the corner. Over the summer, your school may have acquired new devices, software, and educational technology (or ed tech) to use in classrooms. Or, your school may have expanded existing technology programs, or may be thinking about adopting new forms of ed tech. Any of these scenarios can mean new privacy concerns and new chances for you to advocate for student privacy.
Our student privacy report offers recommendations for several stakeholder groups. In this post, we'll focus specifically on parents. Based on the inquiries EFF receives regularly, it is clear that parents across the country are concerned about the privacy implications of technology in the classroom. Parents are in a strong position to advocate to schools and districts on behalf of their children. Here are some of our recommendations:
Ask the right questions. As a parent, be on the lookout for:
What kind of devices, applications, and other technology are being used to teach your child?
Were you presented with the opportunity to review the privacy policies of these vendors?
What data are the technology providers and the school district collecting, respectively? Do vendors and schools clearly communicate why they’re collecting that data?
Are the technology vendors using current best practices to protect the data collected on your child?
You should be able to choose whether or not any use of your child’s data is collected or used for purposes beyond student education—for instance, product improvement. If data will be used for product improvement, is it properly anonymized and aggregated?
Will the vendor disclose any student data to its partners or other third parties in the normal course of business? If so, are those conditions clearly stated? What are the privacy practices of those entities?
In a hardware product like a laptop, are controls available to prevent the vendor and school district employees from using the devices’ webcams, microphones, and location-tracking features to spy on students? What are the school or district’s policies on using those features?
Push for opt-out alternatives. Outline your privacy concerns to the school or district and ask for options to opt out of technology use, or to use different devices or software. If opt-out processes are not in place, advocate for their creation. People to reach out to might include your children’s teachers, technology directors, principals, and parent-teacher association leadership.
Find allies. You can find allies both locally within your school or district as well as elsewhere through national networks of other concerned parents. Some tips for connecting with parents locally include:
Raise your concerns with parents you already know well. Do not try to convince anyone—just look for two or three others who already share your concerns.
If you cannot easily find at least two other parents who share your concerns, approach your child’s teacher(s) and ask whether they know any other parents who might share your concerns. Ask your child if any of his/her peers and classmates have raised concerns and speak with their parents.
Hold a discussion group for a small group of parents. Discuss what information other parents have received from the school or district, and which other parents share your concerns and want to work together.
Once you have identified a small group of parents to work with:
Attend a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or equivalent meeting together and raise your concerns. Make sure everyone in your groups speaks and collect contact information of other similarly-minded parents who may be potential allies.
Contact your district and/or school administrators and request a meeting with all the parents in your group. Make sure everyone in your group speaks. Ask district or school officials to explain the process through which the current technology and policy was adopted, and how it might be changed. Ask district or school officials to provide training to teachers, administrators, and students about best practices for protecting student privacy and digital literacy generally. Lastly, see if the district or school officials can propose other solutions to your concerns.
Contact a member of your school board and request a meeting with all the parents in your group. Make sure everyone in your group speaks and ask the school board member whether they would consider sponsoring a measure constraining school or district contracts to prevent intrusive data collection.
Over the next few weeks, EFF and our allies will enter our final push to pass legislation out of the California legislature that would defend and promote civil liberties. With a Democratic super-majority eager to push back against the federal government, our chances have seldom been better to move the ball forward on the state level. We have also seen bipartisan support emerge around issues such as transparency and youth access to technology.
But we need all Californians who value digital rights to flood their state lawmakers with communications demanding they send these key reforms to the governor’s desk. We’ve set up five simple action pages, covering issues such as police surveillance, broadband privacy, and youth computer rights. Please lend your voice to ensure California is at the forefront of the battle for our rights.
A.B. 375 - California Broadband Internet Privacy Act
Earlier this year, Congress voted to repeal hard-earned privacy protections passed by the Federal Communications Commission that kept broadband providers (e.g. Time-Warner, Cox Communications, Comcast) from selling your data without your permission. A.B. 375, legislation by Assemblymember Ed Chau, would restore these rights to ensure that our browsing data belongs to us.
S.B. 21 - Law Enforcement Surveillance Transparency and Oversight
Police and sheriff's departments across California have been quietly acquiring advanced surveillance technology with very little transparency or public input. S.B. 21, introduced by Sen. Jerry Hill, would require law enforcement agencies to publish “Surveillance Usage Policies” and disclose biennially how often each technology was used or abused, how effective it was, and how much it cost. Municipal police departments would further be required to seek approval from city councils prior to acquiring the technology.
A.B. 811 - Computers and Internet for Juveniles in State Care
Sponsored by the Youth Law Center and Assemblymember Mike Gipson, A.B. 811 would ensure that youth in detention and foster care are provided with the digital tools they need to succeed. The bill would state that youth in state care have a right to access computers and the Internet for educational purposes and to stay in touch with their families. So far, the bill has received bipartisan support.
Often referred to as the “Sanctuary State” bill, S.B. 54 contains crucial language ensuring that data collected by law enforcement agencies in California is not used for immigration enforcement. Please join us if you believe that police should protect the rights of all people, and not collaborate with federal agencies that may pursue mass deportations, as promoted by the administration.
Facing the threat of a “Muslim registry,” Sen. Ricardo Lara introduced legislation to ensure that data collected by the state is not provided to the federal government for the purposes of building a list of people based on their religious affiliation, national origin, or ethnicity. The bill would also prevent state authorities from expending resources on creating such lists, registries, or databases. California law enforcement agencies would also be strictly limited regarding when they may collect information about a person’s religion.
Would you like to get more involved? The Electronic Frontier Alliance is a network of local organizations across the country that bring together local allies to learn about and advocate for digital rights in their communities. Several allied groups in California are taking action across the state to support these bills and your participation could expand a local event or campaign of your choice. You can also view all of the California bills EFF is supporting through LegiScan.
Thai activist Jatuphat “Pai” Boonpattaraksa was sentenced this week to two and a half years in prison—for the crime of sharing a BBC article on Facebook. The Thai-language article profiled Thailand’s new king and, while thousands of users shared it, only Jutaphat was found to violate Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws against insulting, defaming, or threatening the monarchy.
The sentence comes after Jatuphat has already spent eight months in detention without bail. During this time, Jatuphat has fought additional charges for violating the Thai military junta’s ban on political gatherings and for other activism with Dao Din, an anti-coup group. While in trial in military court, Jatuphat also accepted the Gwangzu Prize for Human Rights.
When he was arrested last December, Jatuphat was the first person to be charged with lese majeste since the former King Bhumibol passed away and his son Vajiralongkorn took the throne. (He was not, however, the first to receive a sentence—this past June saw one of the harshest rulings to date, with one man waiting over a year in jail to be sentenced to 35 years for Facebook posts critical of the royal family.) The conviction, which appears to have singled Jatuphat out among thousands of other Facebook users who shared the article, sends a strong message to other activists and netizens: overbroad laws like lese majeste can and will be used to target those who oppose military rule in Thailand.
In addition to sending a frightening message to activists like Jatuphat who disseminate information, the ruling may reinforce existing chilling effects on journalism in Thailand. The lese majeste laws that can be used to target dissidents also limit what journalists and news organizations—particularly those with in-country staff or correspondents who rely on access to Thailand—can report about Thai politics. The BBC article in this case was a relatively objective, factual profile of King Vajiralongkorn, showing that even seemingly tame reporting and commentary may be construed as illegal. Even covering a case like Jatuphat’s can constitute a violation of lese majeste law, as reporting the details of a lese majeste crime may constitute reproducing illegal content and put journalists in a position to be accused of illegal royal defamation themselves.
Jatupat’s case is only the latest in the Thai government’s increasingly repressive and arbitrary attempts to chill expression online and censor content critical of the state, including banning interaction with certain exiled dissidents and making it a crime to simply view lese majeste content. These extremes are not just about stopping the flow of information; they are also about spreading fear among users that the authorities may be watching what they read, share, and say online. For users to have the best chance at fighting back, they need safe forums for peaceful debate, deliberation, and discussion online: forums that don’t dangerously tie their comments to their real identities and lives.
Rick Pepper is passionate about designing cool products for cyclists and other adventurous types. He started his company Elevengear as a one-person shop in 2007, and it’s since grown to a small, successful team. But all of that could have changed when his company was sued for allegedly infringing a group of obscure patents on delivery and tracking protocols.
Before Rick even realized that he’d been sued, his inbox was flooded with solicitations from lawyers offering to take on his case. “I remember getting an email that I thought was super spammy,” Rick recalls. “It said something like, ‘Hey, since you’re in a bit of legal difficulty, and we have experience with cases like this …’ I thought for sure it was a scam. I thought it was one of those Nigerian prince sort of things.”
“Of course we shouldn’t infringe legitimate patents. But broadly worded and incredibly vague patents are just a shakedown.”
If only it were. Rick had really been sued by Eclipse IP (now called Electronic Communication Technologies LLC), a classic patent troll whose business is demanding licensing fees from real, practicing companies. Eclipse accused Elevengear of infringing three patents. U.S. Patent No. 7,119,716 (the ’716 patent) covers letting the recipient of a notification send a message requesting a change in settings for future notifications. U.S. Patent No. 7,479,899 is a continuation of the ‘716 patent and relates to a delivery recipient sending a message in order to change delivery settings or to provide information to the delivery person. Finally, U.S. Patent No. 7,876,239 (also a continuation of the ’716 patent) covers the practice of sending the recipient of a delivery a notification that that delivery is coming from an authorized source. Although Elevengear is based in Sebastopol, California, and Eclipse was a Florida company, the suit was filed across the country in a federal court in New Jersey.
When Rick realized that the lawsuit was real, he was floored. The patents struck him as incredibly broad and vague. As it happened, some of Eclipse’s patents had already had claims found invalid under Alice v. CLS Bank, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that says that an abstract idea does not become a patentable invention simply by being implemented on a computer. A federal judge in California had ruled that claims from three of Eclipse’s patents (also relating to notification technology) were invalid. In fact, this ruling invalidated more than a dozen claims from the ’716 patent itself.
The timing for Elevengear couldn’t have been worse: Rick was in the middle of launching a new product called Crashtag, an emergency identification tag for cyclists that doubles as a beer bottle opener. He was investing money into a new website and production costs; the last thing he needed was an expensive lawsuit. Rick is the first to admit that his business was on the line: “Our company would have folded, we would have packed up our tent, and I would have gotten another graphic design job.” Fortunately for Rick and his team, Alice came to the rescue.
Rick hired attorney Brian Mitchell to represent Elevengear. Through Mitchell, Elevengear struck back by filing a declaratory judgment action in the Northern District of California seeking a court order that all of Eclipse’s asserted patent claims were invalid under Alice v. CLS Bank. Indeed, Elevengear pointed out (PDF) that a court had already found similar claims invalid. Eclipse dropped its infringement suit and settled (on confidential terms) with Elevengear before the court ruled on these issues.
Rick remembers his team’s mellow celebration when the legal fight was over. “It wasn’t like, ‘We won!’ It was more like, ‘Well, we didn’t die this time.’” Patent trolls have a seemingly endless arsenal of bad patents to use against practicing companies. A small company like Elevengear can never rest easy when the next legal threat might be just around the corner.
Rick finds it deeply troubling that some lobbyists want to destroy Alice. “We’re small companies working on interesting new ways to do things. Of course we shouldn’t infringe legitimate patents. But broadly worded and incredibly vague patents are just a shakedown. If we didn’t have Alice as a tool to defend ourselves, it would have some serious economic implications.”
Now that two key Senate committees have passed the legislation with bipartisan support, A.B. 375 sits in the Senate Rules Committee. It will be sent to the Senate floor for a vote after some technical amendments are made.
Several state senators requested that the bill’s author, Assemblymember Ed Chau, who also chairs the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, further amend the legislation to more tightly conform to the FCC’s rules. Both the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communicationsand the Senate Judiciary Committee noted differences between the FCC privacy rules and A.B. 375. These included a slightly broader definition of personal information in state law and the inclusion of the California Public Utilities Commission’s definition of broadband service providers.
California’s A.B. 375 Will Also Ban Pay-for-Privacy Schemes
The Bill Must Be Approved by the Legislature By September 15th
This is the official deadline for bills that can be contemplated by the Governor in California. That means we have one month for the bill to pass the Senate and the Assembly. There’s no doubt that Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon’s lobbying arms will push even harder on California’s legislators to kill the bill. If you are a California resident, you have to make sure you call your elected official and register your support with A.B. 375, the California Broadband Privacy Act.
It’s August. In the United States, that means members of Congress will be swinging back home to their home districts to check in with their state-side staffers, hit some fundraisers, and maybe host a few public events.
You can meet them. Constituents can request meetings with members of Congress while they are home this August by contacting their local congressional offices. If you coordinate a meeting request with a few local allies, you’ll likely be able to meet with staffers, and you may even be able to meet with your member of Congress herself.
Meetings like this matter—a lot. When members hear repeatedly from multiple constituents about overlapping concerns, those views can influence how they vote on policy issues, especially if they think those concerns will animate controversy that might complicate their careers. With so many issues vital to digital rights looming in the congressional calendar, this August is a critical time for Internet users to pressure Congress to do the right thing on mass surveillance, net neutrality, and rules that insulate platforms for liability based on content written by users.
Here are some of the key issues to bring up this August, whether in meetings with your Members of Congress, or when writing for public audiences:
Ending mass surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act
At the end of the year, a key provision of U.S. surveillance law is set to expire, Section 702. This is the law underpinning the NSA’s mass surveillance of Internet communications—including content—of foreign persons outside the United States, who of course communicate with Americans. Thanks to the Snowden revelations, we now know that millions of Americans are impacted by this surveillance (the exact number of which the government refuses to disclose) and Congress must vote to either reauthorize the law, or allow it to expire as scheduled. We know Congress will take this up in the next few months, so now is the ideal time to deliver a simple message: this surveillance is unconstitutional and unacceptable, and Congress should allow this dangerous provision to expire unless it first enacts significant reforms to curtail mass surveillance powers. Above all, Congress should resist attempts to make this provision of law permanent by insisting that any potential re-authorization include a five-year sunset.
Defending protections that enable free expression on the Internet
There's a dangerous new threat in Congress to your right to free speech and expression online, and it's already gained the support of a frightening number of lawmakers. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) wouldn’t help punish sex traffickers. What it would do is drastically weaken 47 U.S.C. § 230 (commonly known as "CDA 230" or simply “Section 230”), one of the most important laws protecting free expression online. It would expose startups that run online services to the risk of overwhelming criminal and civil liability for the actions of their users. Sex trafficking is a serious problem, and Congress should be applauded for turning its attention to it, but this bill is not the solution. We support a clear message to Congress: don't support SESTA or any other attempt to weaken protections for online speech under Section 230. If you run or work in a business that relies on Section 230 protections, then explain to your members of Congress how SESTA would threaten your job.
Defending net neutrality rules that preserve equal opportunity online
A few months ago, incoming Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai announced his plans to eliminate the clear, enforceable protections for net neutrality that the Commission had implemented in 2015. People have filed a record-breaking 18 million comments with the FCC, the majority of them opposing the Commission’s plan to roll back protections for net neutrality (and it’s not too late to submit your own). Now, Congress is planning a hearing on the issue in September. Members of Congress must hear from their constituents that net neutrality protections are essential for our right to communicate and organize online. Without the FCC’s light-touch rules protecting net neutrality, corporate and other dominant voices would be able to pay for fast lanes, leaving competing startups, whistleblowers, or people with minority views without access to a fair playing field. Tell your Member of Congress why a free, open, and content-neutral Internet matters to you and your community. Finally, if you can visit Washington in September, sign up to join the fly-in day to defend net neutrality.