FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Earlier in June, Pai visited Milwaukee and, with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., touted an FCC vote to reduce regulations.

Anousone Muongpack

Power up the laptop July 12, a designated day of action to protest the Federal Communication Commission’s attack on net neutrality.

The goal is to stage the largest online protest in history.

The day of action involves protesters using tools on major web platforms to contact members of Congress and the FCC, which is chaired by Republican Ajit Pai — a former Verizon attorney.

More than 15 companies are involved, including Amazon, Kickstarter, Etsy, Reddit, Mozilla, Vimeo, Nextdoor and CREDO Mobile.

Dozens of organizations also are committed to the protest, including Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, Demand Progress, Center for Media Justice, World Wide Web Foundation, Creative Commons, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Greenpeace, Common Cause, ACLU, American Library Association, PCCC, MoveOn and Color of Change.

“The internet has given more people a voice than ever before and we’re not going to let the FCC take that power away from us,” said Evan Greer of Fight for the Future. “Massive online mobilization got us the strong net neutrality protections that we have now, and we intend to fight tooth and nail to defend them.”

The organizing follows the May 18 FCC vote — 2-1 along party lines — that would let providers block or throttle sites.

In June 2015, the Obama-era FCC decided to regulate broadband as a service under Title II of the Communications Act — putting it, like phone service, under stricter government oversight. That gave the FCC authority to enforce net-neutrality rules.

The recent FCC vote jettisons those Title II protections and places broadband-access providers under Title I.

Net-neutrality activists say the move would undermine the basis for the FCC’s landmark 2015 Open Internet Order, and allow broadband providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast to throttle or even block content — or charge content providers to prioritize their sites.

Fake and fraudulent at the FCC

Meanwhile, activists also are demanding the FCC strike more than 450,000 comments opposing net neutrality that they contend are fake and were fraudulently submitted to support the vote.

A letter was sent this spring to Pai by Fight for the Future claiming hundreds of thousands of comments were faked and demanding an investigation into the alleged identity thefts.

“Whoever is behind this stole our names and addresses, exposed our private information in a public docket without our permission and used our identities to file a political statement we did not sign onto,” states the letter.

The letter also states, “Based on numerous media reports, nearly half a million Americans may have been impacted by whoever impersonated us in a dishonest and deceitful campaign to manufacture false support for your plan to repeal net neutrality protections.”

Fight for the Future cited two reports in which comments on the public record at the FCC were posted by deceased individuals.

Joel Mullaney, a net neutrality advocate, said his name was attached to a fake comment.

“In my nearly 30 years of being an internet user, I’ve been extremely judicious about using my real name online. On those rare times when I have chosen to do so, it’s been for something I feel strongly about,” Mullaney said.

“To see my good name used to present an opinion diametrically opposed to my own view on net neutrality makes me feel sad and violated. Whoever did this violated one of the most basic norms of our democratic society, that each of us have our own voice and I am eager to know from what source the FCC obtained this falsified affidavit. I have been slandered.”

Net neutrality activists demanded the FCC remove the fake comments from the record and disclose any information the commission may have about the group or person involved in the “attack.”

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