New Generation of Civil Rights Leaders Call on FCC to Exercise Title II Authority to Protect the Open Internet
Jennifer Calloway, 202-448-0214, email@example.com
WASHINGTON D.C. — In time for the Sept. 15 deadline, groups representing communities of color, including partners in the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition, ColorOfChange.org, the Media Action Grassroots Network, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Free Press, 18MillionRising.org and Presente.org, filed thousands of reply comments from individuals and grassroots partners. Collectively, this new generation of civil rights leaders called on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to protect an open Internet by using Title II authority to reclassify it as a common-carrier service.
The groups also highlighted the importance of strong, proactive rules against blocking, content discrimination and pay-to-play deals that will allow fast-lanes for some and slow lanes for the rest of us. These rules should apply equally to fixed and mobile services. Title II authority will also enable the FCC to take a giant first step toward accelerating broadband Internet access and adoption in America and closing the digital divide.
“An open Internet is vital to marginalized voices because it allows us to bypass historic barriers to media engagement, to embrace new opportunities for self-expression and political participation, and to access basic human needs like education and healthcare,” said Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice, a partner in the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition. “The FCC must keep the digital playing field level and the civil rights community should do everything possible to protect the open Internet from the predatory schemes of big telecom.”
“The FCC is on the verge of making a decision that would destroy the Internet as we know it, by giving corporations unprecedented control over what we say and do online. There’s no reason to believe that if we let corporations make even bigger profits that they’ll suddenly invest in better access for our communities,”said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org. “Net neutrality is what allowed us to call attention to injustice in Ferguson, and lead a national conversation on racism and police accountability. The way our voices can travel online has become a fact of life.”
“Again and again, research shows that while Internet use is high among some communities of color, poor communities — places where many people of color live — continue to be underserved or not served at all. In our increasingly digital world where technology demands digital literacy, lack of access to an open and free internet is nothing short of a civil rights violation,” said Cayden Mak, new media director at 18Millionrising.org. “In addition to filing comments we’re hosting a #FIGHT4NETRIGHTS Twitter chat on Wednesday, September 17. As people of color our voices and our stories need to be heard on this issue.”
“The stakes are huge. Because the Internet is open and free, small operations like Presente have been able to grow and thrive, building real political power for Latinos on a relatively small budget. And we’ve been able to have a huge impact on important issues ranging from immigration reform to media accountability,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org. “Without Net Neutrality, the Internet would have less potential to empower our communities.”
"This is a historic moment for the future of how we communicate with one another. And, up to the task, millions have weighed in at the FCC to let them know that we won't sit idly by while our rights are sold to the highest bidder. Preserving an Open Internet is non-negotiable," said Jessica J. Gonzalez, executive vice president and general counsel of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. "The FCC can do the right thing and protect the Internet as a driving force of democracy in this country, by issuing rules that would prevent blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization online."