Jul 18, 2017

Billboards divide net neutrality advocates

Matt Rourke / AP

Infighting erupted Tuesday between net neutrality supporters over billboards in conservative lawmakers' districts.

As Axios reported last week, staff to some House Leaders warned Facebook, Amazon and Google that overly aggressive protests could hurt their other legislative priorities. Fight for the Future, a progressive group that organized a pro-net neutrality protest, said it would use the ads to slam some of those lawmakers.

The issue: One of the districts that Fight for the Future was said to be planning to target with pro-net neutrality billboards belongs to Rep. Steve Scalise, who is currently recovering after being shot at a practice for a charity baseball game. The Internet Association, which participated in the protests supporting net neutrality, called Fight For The Future's actions "unacceptable."

"Accusing a Member of Congress of 'betrayal' while he's recovering in the hospital is despicable," said the group's CEO, Michael Beckerman.

The other side: Fight for the Future says it never intended to erect a billboard about Scalise. "Rep Scalise's name was included in private emails to two reporters, due to a copy paste error, and corrected once brought to our attention," said Evan Greer, the organization's Campaign Director, in an email. "We would obviously not run billboards against somebody who is in the hospital."

Between the lines: Friction between net neutrality supporters has been simmering for a while. Tech companies are supporting the current rules but also don't want to alienate Republicans whose support they need on other issues. Fight for the Future, meanwhile, has taken a much harder line against a possible legislative compromise.

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By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

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U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

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