It’s that time of year again. As non-profits ready their tax returns due next month, activist “c3’s” like Public Knowledge and Free Press are looking woefully at their anemic, post-Trump-win bank accounts and are desperately searching for their next fundraising opportunity. In the telecom world, they’ve turned to their old reliable cash cow – Net Neutrality.

Play along with MediaFreedom and see how many of the “Telecom Activist Script” scenes and lines you can spot as the Net Neutrality debate / Broadway play heats up (yet again):

Scene 1: “Coalition” building

  • Create a “sky-is-falling” controversy, such as decrying the FCC’s work to address the unsustainable Net Neutrality Order.
  • Send fundraising email – you can’t get organized without everyone chipping in $5.
  • Create a new coalition and call it something like “Free Access to Knowledge and E-Mail” (the FAKE coalition), and ask the usual “consumer” groups (the ones funded by Silicon Valley, Soros, and the Ford Foundation) to join.
  • Issue a joint press release caterwauling against the FCC’s new efforts, calling them “an affront to humankind.” Blame the Commission’s work on the lobbying influence of “evil” corporations and the 2010 Citizens United ruling.
  • Plant “news” pieces in the New York Times and Washington Post, stating that Net Neutrality is “settled science,” which, should the FCC alter it in any manner, represents “an existential threat to the Internet as we know it.”
  • Dog whistle all the progressive trolls so they write scathing, anti-corporate screeds against the lobbyist-captured FCC and greedy “profit before people” corporations.

Net Neutrality “fauxtesters” demonstrating at the FCC, July 2014.

Scene 2: “Outrage”

  • Send another fundraising email – “You can’t fight the ‘Big Evil Corporations’ unless everyone chips in $10.”
  • Urge Congress to get involved because it’s just not right that a “rogue” FCC be allowed to create policy and law without Congress’ say-so.
  • Get Senators Liz Warren, Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, and Ed Markey to tweet “Peace, love, and a free Internet!” Extra points if they hold an “impromptu” press conference in the Senate Swamp.
  • Get Senator Al Franken and professional activist, Susan Crawford, on NPR to exclaim that “Net Neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time,” with the two barking that the FCC’s “reasonable rules” are justified because ISPs are just “dumb pipes” and not really communications companies at all.
  • Fire-up the computer database in Mountain View and send 4.1 million “grassroots” e-mails to the FCC, Congress, and the President, urging them to shut down the FCC’s anti-Net Neutrality, anti-free speech efforts. Don’t forget to boast about the number and how “The People” (bots) have spoken “truth to power.”
  • Trot out Gigi Sohn, Harold Feld, Matt Wood, and Medea Benjamin for a press conference in front of the FCC. Hire fill-in protesters, holding signs emblazoned with “Net Neutrality Saves Puppies,” etc.
  • Get HBO’s John Oliver to do another Internet “buggery” piece, and plant a “news” piece in the New York Times and Washington Post about how cool Oliver is and how he speaks “truth to power.”

Busy as beavers: Joyless, paid-for Net Neutrality “activists” fill an FCC viewing room, cranking out their fundraising “action alerts” during the vote to impose Net Neutrality / utility regulation on the Internet, February 2015.

Scene 3: Declare “Victory,” (or, sort of)

  • Send out yet another “We’re almost there” fundraising e-mail asking supporters to dig deep into their Apple Pay apps to help “The Fight against gatekeeping corporations that want to favor their stuff over yours.” $15 will do.
  • “Rickroll” the FCC’s open meeting.
  • Declare victory, but reiterate “More Work Needs to be Done.”
  • Repeat Scene 1 and sequence, highlighting the FCC’s latest anti-Net Neutrality “atrocities,” until the non-profits’ financials make it firmly out of the red.

Watch along at home and check back to see how many of the “lines” we’ve spotted over the next few weeks.

If you have an additional act or line you would like to see added to the list, drop them in the comment box below.

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Shocker alert: A new study has found that a majority of millennials don’t pay to use Netflix. According to the survey:

54 percent of respondents said they use a friend’s or family member’s account. Additionally, 5 percent said they used their current or ex-girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s account. Meanwhile, only 34 percent said they have their own account, and 8 percent did not have a Netflix account.

In total, 59 percent of millennials are using someone else’s account to access Netflix’s “subscription-only” content. That is a significant contingent of people, and in turn, a significant amount of revenue not being generated.

Is anyone surprised by this? Certainly, Netflix shouldn’t be. They tooled millennials into demanding that the FCC hogtie ISPs with confiscatory Net Neutrality rules.  The Obama FCC kindly obliged, giving Netflix, and other billion-dollar Silicon Valley companies like it, a free ride to deliver their services over the Internet to “subscribers.”  Oh, and the kids got all that free speech stuff, too.

For millennials, a “free Internet” seems to mean: stolen, not paid for, grifted, ripped off, shoplifted, filched, poached, purloined…

The report exclaims “Millennials are Cheating the Netflix System.” Of course, not only does this harm Netflix and its investors, it also hurts all the artists who have content on that service but who aren’t getting compensated by those who should be paying. They’re cheating ISPs, too, putting the burden of network construction on the backs of honest individuals who pay their bills and, in doing so, help subsidize network capacity so that millennials can binge-watch 4K video in their parents’ basement until 4AM.

The Internet must be free, you know. Millennials must have their five-finger discount. It is a human right.

It’s hard to turn that spigot off once you’ve got it started. That is, until the spigot doesn’t drip any longer.

Hopefully the new FCC can right some of this millennial theft by repealing Net Neutrality and the like. Seems Netflix might do well to help out, too.

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The following letter – urging the rollback of Title II and the Open Internet Order – was submitted to the FCC on April 19, 2017:

Via ECFS

Ms. Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

April 19, 2017

Re: Letter on GN Docket No. 14-28, urging the “rollback” of the Open Internet Order

Dear Ms. Dortch:

The undersigned signatories – comprised of individuals from small Internet startups, WISPs, Internet engineers and content providers – would like to applaud the FCC’s present efforts to roll back the Open Internet Order (OIO). We have long-believed that the OIO’s needless rules were primarily designed as a government-mandated handout / subsidy from ISPs to Silicon Valley, paying back a political favor, and nothing more. The Internet was not “broken” to justify such an arbitrary and deleterious policy shift from the previous light touch regulatory regime – the latter of which propelled massive private Internet investment and deployment, as well as generated incalculable pro-consumer and societal benefit. With the OIO’s 19th Century utility regulations, however, the Obama-Wheeler Commission did in fact break the Internet ecosystem with its market-distorting, innovation-by-permission ISP licensing scheme. The public interest demands the arrest of the OIO’s overreach, and a return to the light touch policy that grew the Internet.

To this end, as you collect input to inform your rollback plans, we would like to offer you our brief thoughts: [click to continue…]

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The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, President, MediaFreedom.org:

Alexandria, VA, April 7, 2017 – The Wall Street Journal reported late last night that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has begun plans to roll back the prior Commission’s Net Neutrality / Open Internet Order, starting as early as this May. The report notes that Chairman Pai’s efforts “appear aimed at preserving the basic principles of net neutrality but shifting enforcement to the Federal Trade Commission.”  The paper adds that the FCC would likely reverse the prior Commission’s reclassification of broadband providers into common carrier utilities, “so the FTC again would have jurisdiction over the telecommunications carriers.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, working to reduce the last Commission’s needless and deleterious regulatory overreach.

Though details are still emerging, MediaFreedom hails these efforts if true. We have long-believed that the needless rules were primarily designed as a government-mandated handout / subsidy from the ISPs to Silicon Valley, paying back a political favor and nothing more.  All the spin from the OIO’s supporters about the regulations’ role in promoting free speech was just window dressing, masking a role the government, through the First Amendment, has no right to accomplish.  Quite simply, the Internet wasn’t “broken” to justify such an arbitrary and deleterious policy shift.  With the FDR-era regulations, however, the prior Commission did in fact break the ecosystem.

MediaFreedom would still like to see the bans on throttling, blocking and paid priority removed, and we hope the details allow for this, or certainly a more reasonable application of Uncle Sam’s policing power to these proscriptions.

That said, congratulations go to Chairman Pai and Commissioner Mike O’Rielly for working to arrest the OIO’s overreach. In the long run, Congress will have to act to permanently address the harms caused by the OIO / Title II regulations, but the FCC’s plan is excellent news for our economy and consumers, who use the dynamic and evolving Web to thrive and prosper.

We stand ready to help the FCC and Congress make these important and necessary changes.

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Willfully Blind to the Unanimous Charter Vote

April 4, 2017

In Berkman Center’s report on the role the media and the web played in helping the FCC pass Net Neutrality / Title II rules, it concluded that Ars Technica and The Verge were some of the most helpful publications in that pitched battle. Apparently, their pro-Net Neutrality spin was much appreciated by the “cause.” So, it […]

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Congress Repeals Last FCC’s Privacy Land Grab, Begins Correcting Prior Commission’s Regulatory Overreach

March 29, 2017

MediaFreedom applauds yesterday’s House action to repeal the FCC’s Internet privacy rules. The legislation now goes to the President where it is expected to be signed into law. This is good news, and represents an important step in correcting the last FCC’s regulatory overreach, which has done immense damage to consumers, society and the Internet […]

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FCC’s Open Internet Order Is Turning the Internet of Things into a Hal 9000

March 20, 2017

Your home or office is quietly undermining the Internet, like a low-tech version of Hal 9000? As the Wall Street Journal reports: While Bea Lowick ’s customers were busy folding clothes last year, the security system at her Carbondale, Colo., laundromat was also hard at work. Though she didn’t know it, Ms. Lowick’s Digital ID […]

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Netflix’s Hastings: Never Mind. We Don’t Need FCC Net Neutrality After All. The Market Does Just Fine.

March 17, 2017

Earlier today, the Verge reported: “Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says he’s ‘not too worried’ about what will happen if new FCC chairman Ajit Pai eliminates the Title II regulations that have guaranteed a neutral internet experience for US consumers in recent years. “Speaking to a group of journalists at Netflix’s headquarters in Los Gatos, California, […]

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Policymakers Must Step on the Gas to Drive New Mobile Broadband Deployment

March 10, 2017

Though millions of Americans hook up to the Internet via wired landlines, wireless broadband subscriptions outpace wired access by more than a 2-to-1 ratio.  It’s not hard to see why – using a wireless device like a smartphone or tablet, one can connect to the Internet virtually anywhere in the U.S. Wireless innovation coming down […]

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FCC, FTC Work to Heal Obama’s Anti-Consumer Online Privacy Rules

March 2, 2017

If you don’t already know it, the Trump FCC has begun the process of correcting the previous Commission’s online privacy protections. Specifics aside, it remains likely that at some point soon – perhaps with the aid of Congress – the industry-cleaving privacy rule passed last year by a Google-captured, Obama FCC will either be tossed […]

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