ColorOfChange.org Calls on Its Members to Support Net Neutrality
ColorOfChange.org has urged its members to call on the Federal Communications Commission to protect an open Internet by passing Network Neutrality rules and re-establishing its authority to regulate the broadband industry following Tuesday’s federal court ruling.
“For Black folks, this is crucial,” wrote the group in its message to members. “For the first time in history we can communicate with a global audience — for entertainment, education, or political organizing — without prohibitive costs, or mediation by gatekeepers in government or industry.”
But the message warned that telecom companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are trying to orchestrate a complete corporate takeover of the Internet. The group was also critical of the positions taken by several of the nation’s leading civil rights groups who have either opposed or expressed skepticism of the FCC’s effort to pass Net Neutrality rules that would prevent telecom companies from discriminating online.
Many civil rights groups have unfortunately accepted the industry arguments that Net Neutrality would widen the digital divide, an issue ColorOfChange.org has challenged.
ColorOfChange.org noted in its outreach that the telecom companies have used the positions taken by the civil rights groups, even those who claim to be neutral, to increase opposition to passing Net Neutrality rules.
Net Neutrality gives everyone the opportunity – particularly those whose voices have been traditionally marginalized – a chance to speak up. The fight for Network Neutrality is a fight to prevent media consolidation from happening online, a fight to avoid replicating the past failures of our media industry that has marginalized so many voices.
Over the past few months, James Rucker, the executive director of ColorOfChange.org, has met with civil rights groups and lawmakers on the Hill to discuss Net Neutrality. I joined Rucker and took part in most of those meetings.
Several meetings were contentious. But another thing happened that was both surprising and completely unexpected; several staffers were quite candid about the close relationship their offices have with telecom companies.
One staffer told us that his office signed an anti-Network Neutrality letter because a telecom lobbyist asked them to. Another staffer said that while his boss supports Net Neutrality, their office was reluctant to say so publicly to avoid clashing with their friends in the telecom industry.
If we were worried about the future of the Internet then, we’re even more worried now. A federal court ruled Tuesday that the FCC does not currently have the legal authority to regulate the broadband industry. This prevents the FCC from passing Net Neutrality rules or from implementing its National Broadband Plan and taking action to bridge the digital divide. This means the telecom industry is closer than ever to achieving their business ambition of a complete corporate takeover of the Internet.
As ColorofChange.org, Free Press and others in the public interest community have noted, there is a solution that would give the FCC its power back. In order for the agency to pass Net Neutrality rules or implement its National Broadband Plan, the commission needs to re-establish its oversight authority over broadband after it created legal loopholes in deregulating the industry during the Bush Administration.
The FCC needs to show political courage – something that is often in short supply in D.C. – and do the right thing to protect the public interest.
The stakes could not be higher for the general public, but also for those communities who are among the most vulnerable in our society. Your voice can make a difference. Speak out today.