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Working the Phones: Activists Directly Calling Target, FCC

Progressive groups have escalated their actions on two key issues this week, engaging in direct phone campaigns to target a retail business spending in a Minnesota gubernatorial election, and to pressure the FCC to reclassify broadband service so they can regulate it for net neutrality.

I noted yesterday that MoveOn was threatening a nationwide boycott of Target stores in retaliation for the department store spending $150,000 on a right-wing group trying to elect anti-gay Republican Tom Emmer as Governor in Minnesota. Today, they’ve upped the ante on that action by giving out the phone number of Target’s corporate headquarters’ customer relations department and encouraging members to give them a piece of their minds. This is from their email blast:

Target’s CEO wrote an email to company employees where he tried to justify taking advantage of the Citizens United ruling and using company money to buy elections. He said the donation was made for “business objectives such as job creation and economic growth.” […]

Target must be thinking that they can ride out this wave of public outrage—that it’ll blow over if they just ignore us. We can’t let that happen—Target, and companies across the country watching this case, need to understand how serious this is to customers and voters nationwide. So we’re aiming to turn up the heat TODAY by flooding their phones with calls from outraged customers.

Can you take a moment right now to call Target? Just speak from the heart and tell them why you’re not shopping there until they apologize and promise not to buy an election ever again. You don’t need to be an expert on Target, or on Tom Emmer’s candidacy, to speak your mind.

Here’s the number to call:
(612) 304-6073

(Press 1 until you get to speak to a “customer relations” representative. You’ll hear a recording directing you to their website, just stay on the line.)

MoveOn has a boycott Target group on Facebook, and is logging their calls on the Target action as well. They should have metrics by later today.

The pro-net neutrality group Free Press is also getting more aggressive in their advocacy, and pressuring the FCC. Advocates of Internet freedom have become alarmed by a series of secret meetings between top telecom and Internet giants and the FCC, as they try and work out a deal on reclassifying broadband as common carrier services, so they can regulate the services better. The deal could give broadband providers the leeway to tier content, and allow telecom giants to allow their own video services to load faster.

Reclassification is seen as a linchpin to preserving net neutrality, which this deal would bury, but the lack of aggressiveness and the inside game played by advocates has even led stalwarts like Alan Grayson to oppose reclassification, preferring to have Congress take care of it.

This action by Free Press is an attempt to return the energy to fighting the telecoms on net neutrality that we saw in past years. They plan to have their activists call FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and basically demand that he do the job he was sent to Washington to do – to protect the Internet and ensure that no content discrimination can ever happen online. Here’s an excerpt from their email:

Rather than listen to the public outcry for Net Neutrality, the FCC seems content to cut a deal that lets AT&T, Verizon and Google carve up the Internet for themselves.

If that doesn’t worry you, it should.

We can pull the FCC out of these backroom meetings and remind it to serve the public first, and not just AT&T:

First, call FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at 202.418.1000 and tell him not to sign on to any closed-door compromise that kills Net Neutrality;

Second, submit a comment to the FCC urging it to stick to its original plan to protect the open Internet.

Please call Genachowski and tell him to live up to his promise to protect the public and stop any backroom deal that endangers the free flow of communications online.

Free Press has also encouraged supporters to file public comments in support of reclassification with the FCC. They’re providing call scripts to their activists.

While some of this seems a bit late, progressive groups are getting more direct and pointed in their critiques of Washington and corporate business as usual, and are confronting their adversaries with renewed vigor.

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David Dayen

David Dayen