Open Letter to Latino Community Urging Support for Real Network Neutrality

Dear Latin@ Leader:

From protest songs, to news stories, to campaigns for social change, our community has long understood that the right and power to tell our own stories is critical in our fight for human dignity and equality. Network Neutrality rules, also known as open Internet protections, are critical to the fight for equal rights.

For too long, our community has faced disconnection and discrimination at the hands of mainstream media. The open Internet gives us a rare chance to bypass those harms and raise a powerful public voice for change.

The open Internet has allowed Dream activists to explain and protest an unjust immigration system to a broad audience, has amplified the voices of fast food workers fighting for fair wages and working conditions, has been the bedrock of winning campaigns against anti-Latino and anti-immigrant hate speech in media, and so much more. Without the open Internet, these fights would rely on the mainstream newspaper, broadcast, and cable industries, where Latinos are often misrepresented or absent.

Our ability to raise an equal voice online is under attack. As a Latin@ leader, your support for Network Neutrality protections is needed, now more than ever.

Right now, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is debating whether to adopt rules that would allow all voices to be heard equally online, or rules that would give the biggest companies the right to pay more for faster access to Internet users, leaving online speakers who cannot afford to pay in a digital slow lane.

Network Neutrality is the basic principle that prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking access to websites or giving preferential treatment to websites and web content that can afford to pay more to go faster. Under this principle, Latino artists, small businesses, advocates, innovators, educators and ethnic media have been able to address the needs of their communities and reach their communities just as easily as their wealthy corporate counterparts.

In January, when a federal court struck down the FCC’s 2010 Network Neutrality rules,  the court was explicit about two things: (1) broadband providers have every incentive to – and indeed Verizon conceded in court that it would – prioritize  the traffic of big companies that can pay more for speed absent open Internet rules; and (2) the FCC cannot adopt open Internet rules that prevent blocking, discrimination and paid prioritization unless it reclassifies broadband providers under Title II of the Communications Act (see attached fact sheet).

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has an important decision to make that will impact the future of Latin@ voices for decades to come. Chairman Wheeler can either be the leader that passed landmark rules preventing online discrimination, or the lobbyist-turned-FCC-Chair that gave the Internet away to one of the biggest and most powerful industries in Washington.

As a civil rights and Latin@ leader, your voice will help FCC Chairman Wheeler make the right choice and take action on Network neutrality that protects all of our voices online.

Real Net Neutrality rules will:

  • Ban ISPs from blocking access to lawful websites on the Internet;
  • Ban ISPs from adopting a paid prioritization system that would create fast lanes for the wealthy and slow lanes for the rest of us;
  • Protect communities of color and low-income individuals who are more likely to use wireless connections to access the Internet, by enforcing these bans equally on wireless devices and fixed broadband connections;
  • Prevent ISP discrimination before it happens, and not after the fact; and
  • Regulate ISPs as utilities by reclassifying broadband as a Title II service, the only sure way that the FCC can sustain legal challenges to its authority.

Many civil rights and racial justice leaders have already raised powerful support for open Internet protections in town hall meetings, news coverage, in-district visits, and more. Rep. Keith Ellison co-authored a letter with Rep. Raul Grijalva to the FCC supporting reclassification, and it was signed by Reps. Barbara Lee, John Lewis, John Conyers, Donna Edwards, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Charlie Rangel, Bobby Scott, Andre Carson, Jose Serrano and Mike Honda. More than three million people have commented to the FCC in support of strong Network Neutrality rules, along with hundreds of non-profit organizations.

Please join us in this 21st century struggle for equality, and support real Network Neutrality. E-mail the National Hispanic Media Coalition to join comments to the FCC, at info@nhmc.org. There is so much at stake.

Sincerely,

National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC)

National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)

National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP)

National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP)

Presente.org

Latino Rebels

Librotraficante Movement

News Taco

Esperanza Peace & Justice Center

ALAC: Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center

Ruth Livier, actress/writer/digital media pioneer

Andrea Quijada, Media Literacy Project

Edyael Casaperalta, Center for Rural Strategies

amalia deloney, Center for Media Justice

Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice

Maria Agui Carter, Iguana Films

Alex Rivera, filmmaker

Joseph Torres, media activist at Free Press/author

Roberto Lovato, writer

Iván Román, veteran journalist/communications consultant

Vanessa Martinez Bell, writer/digital entrepreneur/blogger at DeSuMama.com

Jim Mendiola, independent filmmaker/film programmer