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An Open Letter From the President: PK’s Fight for Fairness

January 20, 2017

As a new administration takes the reins in Washington, we at Public Knowledge have launched a renewed effort to promote freedom of expression on affordable communications platforms for all. We urge everyone to join this fight for the fundamentals of a truly democratic society, from the right to vote to the right to use all communications tools without fear of retaliation or interference from government or dominant corporate giants.

The essential tools of modern communications — fast broadband, wireless, cable TV, and basic telecom services — must be affordable to all, and if markets don't deliver that, we need a government that makes it happen. According to the Consumer Federation of America, about $50 out of our average monthly $200 bill for these services is inappropriate monopolistic overcharge. Either markets must be reformed to drive down these bloated fees through competition, or we need a government that intervenes to make essential communications affordable and available to all of us.

And it is every bit as important to challenge the monopolistic intellectual property practices in the electronics and entertainment industries. If the government can intervene to limit patent abuses that inflate drug prices, then surely it can apply similar logic to keep large corporate copyright and patent owners from abusing consumers' right to fair use of equipment and content they've purchased.

Just because a service is offered for “free” or provides great value doesn't mean we should have to give up our personal security and privacy to use it. We will continue to fight for consumers' rights to protect their most intimate personal data regardless of how desirable or cheap a particular product or service may be.

We are facing a challenging political climate that threatens fundamental consumer protections as well as a free and open internet. Public Knowledge has fought hard to ensure a creative and connected future for all Americans — one that secures regulatory safeguards, such as reliability of communications networks in an emergency. The Trump administration may jeopardize the Federal Communications Commission's ability to make networks more open, affordable, and available to all of us, and may risk the agency’s capability to maintain consumer rights and protections on the internet.

Please join us in the ongoing fight for fairness in the digital age. Whether it is consumers' pocketbooks or their fundamental right to speak without interference and participate in our democracy, we need your support and active commitment during a time of political change. Now, more than ever before, is a time to engage and provide the energy necessary to make a fair and just society that works for all of us.

Sincerely,

Gene Kimmelman

President & CEO


About Gene Kimmelman

Gene Kimmelman is a Senior Advisor for Public Knowledge. Previously, Gene served as President and CEO of Public Knowledge, Director of the Internet Freedom and Human Rights project at the New America Foundation, and as Chief Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Gene served as Vice President for Federal and International Affairs at Consumers Union. Gene has also served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Antitrust Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Legislative Director for the Consumer Federation of America. Gene began his career as a consumer advocate and Staff Attorney for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. Gene is a graduate of Brown University and holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia where he received the Fortsman Fellowship. He was also a Fulbright Fellow. He presently serves as Fellow on the Thurman Arnold Project at Yale University; Adjunct Law Professor at George Washington University School of Law; Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy of the Harvard Kennedy School; Non-Resident Senior Fellow at The Digital Innovation & Democracy Initiative of The German Marshall Fund; Senior Fellow at the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado; and on the board of International Media Support.