June 14, 2016

    Americans Lose in District Court Title II Ruling on Net Neutrality

    Washington, DC – Protect Internet Freedom National Director Drew Johnson issued the following statement today in reaction to the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to uphold the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules that reclassified Internet Providers under Title II, public utility regulation:

    “Today’s ruling stunningly upholds Obamanet and ignores heavy-handed coercion from the White House on a regulatory agency that is supposed to be independent. The FCC rules upheld today send a message stinking of hypocrisy to the global internet community, as the U.S. does one thing within its borders and argues for the very opposite abroad. The free market helped build the Internet as a critical sector of the economy and the most effective medium for political ideas and public discourse, and the Obama FCC tightened its grip in the most aggressive way possible through declaring the Internet a public utility subject to unprecedented government control. This sweeping regulatory power grab emboldens authoritarian governments and free-speech offenders like Russia and China, which openly admit that they look to U.S. policies to inform their own. For the FCC to suggest that more government oversight and control will somehow be a win for consumers, free expression and innovation is laughable. Today’s decision is likely just the tip of the iceberg, as repressive countries worldwide today were sent a dangerous message that endorses government power grabs.”


    Mike Burita

    Americans will be silenced if their comments are not considered before FCC decides on new regulations

    Washington, DC – Protect Internet Freedom (PIF) today delivered a coalition letter of more than 30 organizations to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting the agency extend comment periods and refrain from rulemaking in the wake of revelations of a massive backlog of public comments.

    On May 12, an FCC spokesperson admitted the agency faced a backlog of 74,000 comment filings across all of the FCC’s proceedings. These backlogs are expected to exist until the implementation of a new electronic filing system.

    Unless the extension to the comment period is granted, the FCC will make decisions about regulations that impact millions of Americans without the opportunity to consider the will of the public.

    Public comments are a vital component to FCC rulemaking efforts. The comments inform, educate, and guide commissioners. They also inject an important layer of transparency and accountability into agency proceedings.

    “It is unfair, unreasonable and un-American that comments submitted using proper channels and received by the FCC well before the agency’s deadline for comments will not have the opportunity to be heard or considered,” said PIF National Director Drew Johnson. “Americans are currently being silenced because of the FCC’s comment backlog, and the FCC should allow these people to have a voice.”

    This backlog was exposed following the revelation by PIF that more than 2,200 public comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding broadband consumer privacy regulations remained unposted more than two weeks after their submission to the FCC.

    The FCC’s delay in posting comments is unavoidably limiting the length of time those remarks are available to the public, thereby reducing the potential reach and impact of the comments.

    The letter, which was endorsed by a broad coalition of think tanks and advocacy organizations, requests that “the comment periods be extended for all proceedings being impacted by the FCC’s overwhelmed electronic comment filing system.”

    “Additionally,” the letter continues, “we encourage the FCC to redouble its efforts to ensure that comments are posted in a timely and public manner in the future so that they may have the opportunity to inform commissioners, influence public discourse, and enhance the dialogue surrounding the important decisions undertaken by the agency and its commissioners.”


    Protect Internet Freedom is a grassroots, nonprofit organization of 1.6 million supporters dedicated to defending a truly free and open Internet, and preserving it as a tool for democratic distribution of information, societal change, and technological innovation


    Mike Burita

    April 25, 2016

    Drew Johnson Joins Protect Internet Freedom as National Director

    Washington, DC – Protect Internet Freedom announced today that Drew Johnson joins the organization as National Director. As a policy analyst, investigative reporter, government waste expert and award-winning columnist, Johnson has a deep background in technology and telecommunications issues and the policy challenges surrounding them. He will help direct the day-to-day management of Protect Internet Freedom (PIF) and serve as spokesperson for the organization.

    “The incremental government takeover of the Internet is one of the greatest challenges of our time,” Johnson said. “Americans are rightly concerned about net neutrality, data privacy, online free speech and the growth of municipal controlled broadband. I look forward to being at the forefront of these issues and challenging Washington’s power grab of the Internet and preserve it as a free and open place for ideas and commerce.”

    Johnson has frequently appeared on national television and radio programs and is known for infusing investigative reporting and policy analysis to expose wasteful spending, corruption and hypocrisy. His editorials, columns, and articles have been featured in scores of newspapers, magazines and scholarly journals around the world. Johnson’s reporting has unearthed billions of dollars in local, state and federal government waste and forced corrupt politicians from office.

    In addition to his work with PIF, Drew is a Senior Scholar at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to reducing the size, scope, and cost of government. Johnson also founded the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free market think tank based in Nashville. He also formerly served as the Opinion Editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, a columnist and chief editorial writer at The Washington Times, and as a policy analyst at the National Taxpayers Union.


    Mike Burita

    April 25, 2016

    New Survey: Majority of Americans Want Individual Control, Not More Government Regulation, When It Comes to Data and Privacy

    Washington, DC – By a 2 to 1 margin, Americans prefer to be empowered to take control of their online data and privacy instead of having the government adopt new rules for Internet providers, according to a new Protect Internet Freedom (PIF) survey conducted by Morning Consult. The PIF national survey of 2,040 registered voters was conducted by Morning Consult April 8-11. Among the key findings:

    • Americans feel Google tops the NSA in tracking them online – The survey breaks down where Americans feel their online privacy is most at risk with 25% of respondents believing Google tracks the online behavior of Internet users the most, followed by the NSA (23%) and Facebook (16%).
    • Consumers do not trust online companies with their private information – 54% of respondents said they have little to no confidence that their online information is kept secure by online search and social media companies. For comparison, 59% are confident banks keep their online information secure and 51% feel the same way about their ISP.
    • New FCC privacy rules won’t protect Internet users – With the FCC excluding companies like Google, Facebook and other content providers from following their proposed privacy regulations, only 32% of respondents believe the FCC’s new rules will actually improve their online privacy.
    • “Do Not Track” opt-out is better – By a 2 to 1 margin, respondents agree that empowering Internet users to take control of their own data through an easy opt-out method, similar to Do Not Call, is better for privacy protection than selective government regulation.

    “These findings should be a clear message to lawmakers and regulators: Americans may be concerned about their online privacy but government regulation that handpicks the Obama Administration’s biggest corporate supporters for special exemptions while regulating everyone else is the type of cronyism that Americans find appalling,” said PIF National Director Drew Johnson. “Instead, the individual should have the ability to universally opt-in or opt-out of the pervasive tracking imposed by the government and its favored corporate partners as they wish.”

    Read Summary of Morning Consult survey.


    Mike Burita

    April 14, 2016

    White House and FCC in Lockstep Flip Flop on Internet Rate Regulation

    #CartWheeler: New PIF Video Exposes Chairman Wheeler’s Conflicting Statements Before Congress

    Alexandria, VA – Government takeover of the Internet reached new heights this week, as President Obama pledged to veto H.R. 2666, The No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act. The bill, which legally precludes the FCC from exercising regulatory authority over the rates charged by internet service providers, is expected to face a contentious fight on the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday. Protect Internet Freedom (PIF) noted that the veto threat and recent statements on Internet rate regulation stand in stark contrast to earlier positions by Chairman Wheeler and President Obama himself that the government would not get involved in rate regulation.

    In his public address on net neutrality on November 10, 2014, President Obama declared, “I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services…

    The White House reversed its position this week in its statement on HR 2666 saying the bill “could limit the Commission’s ability to address new practices and adapt its rules for a dynamic, fast-changing online marketplace.”

    Earlier this week, Protect Internet Freedom released a video highlighting FCC Chairman Wheeler’s statements under oath before congressional committees saying the FCC would not regulate broadband rates in May 2015 and again on March 16th of 2016. But then, just one week later, the Chairman completely reversed his position on rate regulation. See video here.

    “HR 2666 is common sense legislation that upholds a commitment to keep the government out of Internet rate regulation. It reinforces President Obama’s public position on net neutrality,” said Protect Internet Freedom Public Advocate Jerri Ann Henry. “Similarly, FCC Chairman Wheeler made the same point, over and over and over, to insist he and the FCC had no interest in regulating broadband rates. Turns out, he was just #cartWheeling. It is truly revealing that the White House and the FCC, a supposed independent agency, are in lockstep in their intentions to further the government takeover of the Internet.”


    Mike Burita

    February 8, 2016

    India Gives in to Corporate Charades, Bans Free Internet Access for Millions of Unconnected Users

    Infographic: Exposes Net Neutrality Elites Leading Charge Against Zero Rating for Global Poor

    Alexandria, VA – Today in India, the long running debate between Facebook and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come to an end and the American tech giant’s Free Basics offering has been soundly rejected. Protect Internet Freedom (PIF) expressed outrage that TRAI has given in to net neutrality activists in denying even basic Internet services for those that need it most. PIF has compiled an analysis of the most vocal anti-zero rating Internet elites in the U.S. — academics, venture capitalists, and technology leaders—into a digital infographic This “Zero Access Country Club” largely lives in the top median zip codes in the U.S., communities in which the median income is on average 60 times that of the typical income in a country like India.

    The following statement is from Jerri Ann Henry, Public Advocate for Protect Internet Freedom:

    “India’s TRAI ruling is very disappointing for the millions of unconnected citizens that have never logged on to a computer or swiped an iPhone. Unfortunately, as governments take a more activist role in deciding the Internet’s future, we can expect to see even more organized lobbying campaigns where megaphone wielding-extremists drown out the voices of the people.

    “Here in the U.S., we see the net neutrality priesthood are already directing their moral outrage, public relations expertise and substantial funding to attack zero rating initiatives that get more people online. To them, zero-rating is “poor Internet for poor people.” But all they have to offer in return is “no Internet for poor people.”

    “Watching these Internet elites patting themselves on the back for blocking Internet access to those most needing it is akin to watching a debate among the well fed about whether the starving should be given soup that isn’t organically sourced. Ideological purity is easy when it costs you nothing.”


    Mike Burita

    January 6, 2016

    CES 2016: Full-Page Ad Targets FCC Chairman Wheeler on Internet Freedom

    Wheeler’s Net Neutrality Rules Stifle Free Speech and Creative Breakthroughs That Have Helped CES Innovators Prosper

    Alexandria, VA – A full-page ad in today’s edition of Las Vegas Review Journal compares disturbing similarities between FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and China’s State Internet Information Officer Chief Lu Wei in statements on restricting Internet freedoms. Wheeler is a featured speaker at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday January 6. Under the headline “Internet: Great Minds Think Alike,” the ad compares Wei’s statement that a free and open Internet should come with rules with Wheeler’s statement that the Internet should be “refereed with a yardstick.” Protect Internet Freedom (PIF), a non-profit grassroots organization of 1.6 million members dedicated to a free and open Internet, purchased the ad.

    “CES is a renowned gathering for innovators that have greatly relied on a free and open Internet to advance their dreams. It is the ideal venue for FCC Chairman Wheeler to publicly explain his position on Internet freedom and why he believes that the FCC should referee speech and content on the Internet,” said PIF Public Advocate Jerri Ann Henry.

    PIF noted that new “net neutrality” rules empower the FCC to oversee and regulate the Internet like a utility and is a threat to fundamental rights to freedom of speech during a time when global online censorship is on the rise.   Practices that are common in oppressive regimes like China and Russia are spreading to Western democracies like Germany. Ironically, many of the technology giants including Google and Facebook, that advocate for a “free and open Internet,” fully support the new net neutrality rules. Recent events show that they are more than willing to comply with the censorship demands of governments overseas.

    “When it comes to free speech, the Internet is the modern equivalent of the printing press—a vehicle through which opinions, no matter how different or offensive, can be offered publicly without fear of oppression. The U.S. should lead, not follow, in preserving the Internet as a place for free speech and creative freedoms unfettered by government intervention, so CES innovators can continue to succeed and prosper.”

    See ad here.


    Mike Burita

    December 18, 2015

    Video: Fiorina and Paul First Presidential Candidates to Share Positions on FCC’s Internet Takeover with Protect Internet Freedom

    1.6 Million Members Enlisted to Seek Answers from Candidates on the Trail

    Alexandria, VA — As backlash over the government’s Internet takeover continues, Protect Internet Freedom is actively seeking responses from all presidential candidates on a range of Internet freedom issues. Today, PIF has released the first two of these videos from presidential candidates Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul. Both candidates took time from hectic campaign schedules to share their positions with PIF members.

    Carly Fiorina strongly disagrees with the FCC treating the Internet as a public utility stating, “The net neutrality rules promulgated by this Administration along with the big businesses that stand to benefit are as good an example of crony capitalism as any. Major companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, EBay and Netflix now have a government-conferred advantage over startups because they can afford the lobbyists and lawyers necessary to navigate the new Title II landscape. When influence trumps innovation, big entrenched companies benefit…”

    Rand Paul concurred on the need to keep the government out of the Internet saying, “I’d like to get the government out of the Internet completely…I’m absolutely opposed to having the Internet considered a utility. I would undo every bit of it that’s done through Executive Order and I would keep the government’s tentacles and overreach out of the Internet.”

    PIF is working to secure on-the-record interviews from all of the major candidates by enlisting the help of its 1.6 million members, including more than 20,000 members in key primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire. PIF members are asking candidates where they stand on rolling back the FCC’s power grab over the Internet at town halls, parades, meet and greets and other public events.

    “I am so happy that amongst the many issues facing our country, from national security to the economy, candidates are taking the time to address one of our most critical rights, a truly free and open Internet,” said PIF Public Advocate Jerri Ann Henry. “The FCC’s heavy-handed regulations to treat the Internet as a government controlled public utility open the floodgates to those wanting strong centralized controls that threaten our freedom and liberty.”

    View the Protect Internet Freedom Presidential campaign videos here:
    Carly Fiorina:
    Rand Paul:


    Mike Burita

    November 16, 2015

    New Survey: Americans Increasingly Worried About Freedom of Speech on Internet

    One In Three Say They Have Less Freedom Today To Speak Mind; Conservatives Among Most Concerned

    Washington — As tensions rise across college campuses and Americans are increasingly worried about freedom of speech on the Internet and feel that things will only get worse in the future, according to results from a new Morning Consult survey released today by Protect Internet Freedom (PIF). The national survey revealed that one in 3 (34%) respondents say they have less freedom to speak their mind on the Internet today compared with a few years ago, and only one in 10 (12%) say they have more freedom to speak their mind. Conservatives are more likely to say they have less freedom today. When asked to look ahead a few years, about half (45%) of adults think they will have less freedom to speak their minds.

    “Freedom of speech is under attack and Americans are concerned that it is only getting worse online,” said PIF Public Advocate Jerri Ann Henry. “Once thought to only be practiced by authoritarian regimes, online censorship is becoming a common practice in the U.S. on university campuses, social media forums and even in the public comment sections on news websites. There is a movement to shut down and chill speech online that questions the dogma of the progressive left, academia and in some cases our own government.”

    PIF highlighted several examples of encroachments to online freedom of speech in a recent blog post, including an open mic capturing Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Germany’s President Angela Merkel discussing how Facebook could ban user posts critical of Merkel’s immigration policy; national online Latino organization, urging the U.S. Attorney General to arrest a Presidential candidate (Trump) for his tone when talking about illegal immigration; a coalition of social advocacy groups petitioning the Department of Education to ban popular social media apps from public campuses for fear user comments create an “unsafe space” for college students; and the U.S. Federal Elections Commission seeking to regulate online political speech.

    “Ironically, many of those now calling for censorship are the same advocates who empowered the federal government to regulate the Internet in order to protect its “free and open” nature,” Henry said. “In reality, these social justice warriors are using the government as their bodyguard against those who don’t support their online agenda. They aren’t about keeping the Internet open, they aren’t about Internet freedom and they certainly aren’t about protecting free speech.”

    The Morning Consult survey of 1,974 registered voters was conducted November 5-8.


    Mike Burita