On Wednesday, May 24th, thousands of people in cities across the country will protest the Telephone Companies AT&T and Verizon. We are outraged by the tactics of the major telephone companies (AT&T, Verizon and Quest) to pass National Video Franchising legislation in Congress. The Telcos are spending one million dollars a week to buy the votes of Congress people for their legislation (House Bill 5252 and Senate Bill 2686) and on advertising to influence public opinion, using âastroturfâ groups to distort the issues. The proposed legislation will curb local control over video franchises, negatively impact thousands of local Public, Educational and Governmental Access channels, allow red-lining in low-income and rural communities and jeopardize the openness of the internet by removing ânet neutralityâ provisions designed to promote competition.
Since the telephone industry was âde-regulatedâ in 1984, the number of Bell operating companies have shrunk from seven to four (three if the AT&T-Bell South merger is allowed to continue). Thousands of jobs have been lost or out-sourced and the number of independent internet service providers has declined dramatically. The telcos giants are corrupting the Congressional process to cash in on a network that has been funded by ratepayers and federal government subsidies for more than seventy years. Now they want a sweetheart deal from Congress and will stop at nothing. It is not too late to speak out on behalf of the public interest, electronic âgreenspaceâ, open networks, consumer protections and access for all.
Recent news also has exposed the privacy violation of millions of telephone users by AT&T and Verizon who willingly handed over call records to the National Security Agency without proper legal warrants. Only Quest challenged the legality of the NSA request. AT&T has also been in the news about itâs collusion with the NSA to install computers to track the internet traffic on their Worldnet backbone. Now these same corporation want even more access to homes throughout the country with their fiber networks. We demand accountability and better protections!
More than 500,000 people have spoken on behalf of net neutraility. Internet users, community activists and independent media producers, consumer groups, churches and are speaking out. The National Day of Out(r)age is an opportunity for everyone to make their voice heard with political action.
Specifically, we object to:
1) Telco Driven Congressional legislation that: endangers PEG access centers and channels, threatens to red-line communities, and endangers an open internet by not protecting net neutrality (HR 5252 and S.2686). Stop these legislative bills in their current form â we need more protections!
2) Telco collusion with the NSA to illegally violate the privacy of tens of millions of Americans. We demand an investigation and enforcement of the law!
3) The Telco campaign of buying off statehouse and congress people around the country to push their legislation through. We need real campaign finance reform and political transparency!
4) The Telco policy of using âastroturfâ groups to push their deceptions on the public. Expose these campaigns for what they are â corporate propaganda!
5) The mergers and takeovers within in the Telco industry that has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. Stop the AT&T â Bell South merger until there is accountability and thorough anti-trust reviews!
Cities around the country are organizing â see the list at the right that have stepped up. If you donât see your city and are planning something – send us an email. Soon we will have information posted on how you can plan your own day of action.