Voices for Internet Freedom Calls on the FCC to Take Immediate Action to Protect the Open Internet

Contact Info:

Brandi Collins (Center for Media Justice): 510-698-3800, ext. 409

CJ Frogozo (ColorOfChange): 310-570-2622

Brian Pacheco (National Hispanic Media Coalition): 213-718-0722 (cell)

Jenn Topper (Free Press): 202-265-1490, ext. 35

On Tuesday, a federal court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order. The ruling means that companies like AT&T and Verizon can censor, block and interfere with Internet traffic and content.

The court ruling struck down the Commission’s legal authority to protect an open Internet.

In 2010, the FCC passed the Open Internet Order, which was intended to provide some protection against discrimination online by broadband companies that provide us with Internet access.

In a statement released this morning, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency will consider all available options to “ensure that these networks on which the Internet depends continue to provide a free and open platform for innovation and expression, and operate in the interest of all Americans.”

Because the court decision will have a negative impact on communities of color and other marginalized groups, Voices for Internet Freedom calls on Chairman Wheeler to reassert the Commission’s authority to protect the open Internet.

The following are statements from lead members of the Voices Coalition:

“Today's decision on Net Neutrality could signal the end of the Internet as we know it,” said Center for Media Justice Policy Director amalia deloney. “For freedom's sake we can't let this happen.

“Just last week hundreds of community members at the #OaklandVoices Town Hall delivered a clear message to the chairman that an open Internet is essential for the political and economic vitality of their families. Hundreds of communities across the country believe the same. The path forward is clear: The FCC can and must reassert its authority over this essential communications infrastructure and protect the millions of Internet users now left in the cold.”

“Latinos and other people of color have long faced discrimination at the hands of mainstream media,” said Jessica Gonzalez, the executive vice president for the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “Over the open Internet, we have been able to push back against this discrimination, tell our own stories fairly and accurately, and even earn a living. Today's court decision jeopardizes this Internet freedom. It is up to Chairman Wheeler and the FCC to assert its authority to preserve Internet equality.”

“Our communities rely on the free and open Internet to speak and access information without a corporate filter,” said ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “The court's decision today gives a handful of major corporations — the Internet service providers we’re already paying too much to each month due to the lack of competition — license to determine for us what we can see and do online. Black folks' ability to be heard is in real danger, and we urge the new FCC chair to take this opportunity to take a strong stand for the public he represents."

“We are now living in a frightening world where companies like AT&T and Verizon can determine whose voices will be heard online and which ones can be silenced,” said Free Press Senior External Affairs Director Joseph Torres. “These companies now have the power to censor our online free speech. And we know the voices that will likely be silenced are those voices fighting for social and racial justice — the voices of people of color. It didn’t have to be this way. But the court decision is also a reflection on the FCC’s failure during the Obama administration to take proper action to establish the legal authority it needed to protect an Open Internet.”

Voices for Internet Freedom is a coalition of nearly 30 groups representing communities of color in the fight to protect the open Internet. The coalition is led by the Center for Media Justice, Free Press, ColorOfChange and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

For more information on why Net Neutrality and Internet freedom are critical for people of color, please read these FAQs.