Protect Internet Freedom is a non profit 501(c)4 supported primarily by contributions from individuals and private organizations. We have received 2,200 individual contributions, ranging from $5 to several hundred dollars. We have received one small corporate contribution from a Silicon Valley company that has chosen to exercise its right to privacy and remain anonymous. That contribution represented less than one percent of our budget in 2015.
Issues We Care About
Stop the IANA Transfer
President Obama is attempting to give away a national strategic asset of the United States by relinquishing control of the Internet’s core infrastructure to the “global stakeholder community.” What is referred to as the IANA transfer will surrender the Internet’s domain name system (DNS) and root zone files to ICANN and with it, America’s special role in promoting and protecting the greatest tool for individual freedom in human history. President Obama can’t do this without Congressional consent. If fact, it even says that he can’t right in the IANA/Department of Commerce contract.
This important contract has allowed the Internet to function properly protected by U.S. supervision. While the Internet itself may be intangible, the deliverables described in agreements between the United States government and the private moderators are not. They are government property, owned by every American citizen. The Internet is not tribute that can be given away the whim of President Obama.
FEC Regulation of Political Speech on the Internet
In mid-2015, the Chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Ann Ravel, while speaking at a conference hosted by some of the country’s most vocal advocates of regulating political speech like the Brennan Center for Justice, and Committee for Economic Development, said that she too wanted to regulate political speech, and even news sites like the Drudge Report.
Ms. Ravel had pushed previously to convince a majority of the six FEC Commissioners to open a formal rule-making to regulate online political speech. While Ms. Ravel’s efforts failed — a majority of FEC commissioners steadfastly refused to entertain such blatant abuse of Internet free speech — those who care about Internet freedom will need to continue to keep a watchful eye on any formal efforts to resurrect regulation of political speech on the Internet.
Fighting Corporate/ Government Partnerships to Censor Speech
A dangerous precedent is emerging in efforts by governments to regulate and censor speech online. Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are increasingly partnering with governments to openly censor speech that governments are threatened by. Most recently, in Germany Google and other online companies agreed to delete online content within 24 hours if such content was deemed “hate speech” by the German government.
However, under the German Constitution, even insults can be considered hate speech. This is an extremely dangerous precedent and underscores the dangers of companies like Google and others increasingly acquiescing to government pressure to censor the online views of citizens — in essence prioritizing profits over a free and open Internet.
Pushing Back Against the Attacks on Zero Rating
Zero rating is the idea that certain applications or websites don’t count against a mobile Internet user’s data plan. The data charges for downloading these websites or applications are often paid for or subsidized by mobile carriers, app providers or the websites themselves.
Net neutrality activists coming off a successful win to regulate the Internet as a public utility in the U.S., have now set their sites on a global campaign to ban zero rating, particularly in developing countries around the globe like India. Their efforts smack of the worst sort of elitism, denying millions of poor people in developing countries access to free, basic Internet because it doesn’t meet the elitist standards of rich campaigners in the U.S.
Keeping the Internet Free in the U.S.
The Obama Administration’s attempt to have its Federal Communications Commission classify broadband Internet service as a public utility, and thus under government control, will suppress the power and innovation of the user driven Internet.
The FCC’s attempt to regulate broadband Internet with outdated regulations not only threatens innovation in the United States, it will affect the global arena of the Internet. The U.S. has always been on the forefront of protecting the free Internet; bringing its innovations to the world and leading as an example by limiting Internet regulation. Should the Obama FCC succeed in turning the Internet into a government-regulated public utility, it will send a dangerous signal to bad actors on the world stage like China, Russia and Turkey who will follow suit and use America’s actions to justify their own attempts at censorship and control of information within their borders.
Keeping Internet Access Tax Free
When the government attempts to regulate a particular industry, it’s inevitable that it will either increase cost or restrict usage.
If the Federal Communications Commission succeeds in its effort to regulate ISPs using Title II of the Communications Act — the same law the agency uses to regulate telephone service — billions of dollars per year in new fees will be levied on users’ access bills The various state and local rules alone could add an additional $84 or more to your household’s yearly Internet bill for each wired and wireless Internet account you have. When you add it up, Title II classification will likely cost users $15 billion in new fees — making it in effect a massive middle-class tax increase.
The FCC’s move to oversee the Internet the same way they do landline phones will cost consumers more money and stifle the innovations that only a free Internet make possible. Every effort must be made to stop the FCC from enacting these new government regulations, hobbling innovation and increasing the Internet bills of every American.