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OPINION: Net neutrality activists launch withering billboard campaign across U.S.

Billboard and protesters with signs, criticizing Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn on her opposition to net neutrality.
Courtesy photo: Fight for the Future

Last week, the digital rights organization Fight for the Future unleashed a series of crowdfunded billboards targeting lawmakers who support FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s efforts to repeal the country’s net neutrality rules.
With members of Congress back in their home districts, the billboards — paid for by hundreds of small donations — appeared in six different states just weeks before the FCC’s final deadline for public input on their proposal to gut net neutrality rules that prevent companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from charging extra fees, throttling, or blocking websites, apps and online services.
Pictures of some of the billboards are online at imgur.com/a/lhEko.
Since the July 12th day of action, millions have contacted their representatives — who have oversight over the FCC — to ensure these key protections are not changed or removed. The billboards send a strong message to any members of Congress contemplating support for the FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality, which is currently being tracked through a congressional scorecarD on BattleForTheNet.com. So far very few lawmakers have been willing to publicly support Ajit Pai’s plan, likely in light of polling that shows voters — including Republicans — overwhelmingly oppose it.
The billboards encourage constituents to contact their elected representatives. The outdoor ads feature some of the few members of Congress who came out with early support for FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality rules, including:

  • Clarksville, Tenn. — Rep. Marsha Blackburn
  • Dalton, Ga. — Rep. Tom Graves
  • Bakersfield, Calif. — Rep. Kevin McCarthy
  • Janesville, Wis. — Rep. Paul Ryan
  • Rapid City, S.D. — Sen. John Thune
  • Jackson, Miss. — Sen. Roger Wicker

“Politicians need to learn that they can’t attack free speech on the Internet and expect to get away with it,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future. “Voters from across the political spectrum all agree that they don’t want companies like Comcast and Verizon dictating what they can see and do online. No one is fooled by corrupt lawmakers’ attempts to push for bad legislation while they strip Internet users of protections at the FCC. Hundreds of people donated to make these billboards possible. When you come for the Internet, the Internet comes for you.”
The billboards highlight the increasing scrutiny on Congress — who have important oversight authority over the FCC. With no viable legislation on the table, net neutrality supporters remain opposed to any attempt at legislation that would undermine the strong rules at the FCC, which were fought for by millions of Americans, and are calling on lawmakers to publicly oppose Ajit Pai’s plan, and require the FCC to act with transparency and address serious irregularities in its rulemaking process.
Fight for the Future was also one of the leading organizations behind the historic Internet-Wide Day of Action for Net Neutrality on July 12, which drove a record breaking 2 million+ comments to the FCC and Congress in a single day. Learn more at fightforthefuture.org.

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