Voices for Internet Freedom to FCC: Reclassify Internet Service Providers as Common Carriers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 18, 2014

Contacts: 

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

CJ Frogozo, ColorOfChange, 310-570-2622

Brian Pacheco, NHMC, 213-718-0732

Timothy Karr, Free Press, 201-533-8838

WASHINGTON - On Friday, the Voices for Internet Freedom coalition filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on behalf of more than 50 civil rights, human rights, community-based and media organizations in support of strong Net Neutrality rules that protect the digital rights of communities of color.

In the filing, the groups called on the FCC to treat Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as common carriers, which would allow the Commission to reestablish its legal authority to adopt Net Neutrality rules that prevent telecommunications companies from blocking, discriminating against and interfering with Web traffic. The coalition also called on the agency to ensure Net Neutrality protections are applied equally to both wireline and wireless Internet access.

The group opposes the framework for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed rules, which would allow ISPs to discriminate by creating fast and slow lanes online. To read the comments, visit: http://bit.ly/1njxmYw.

Voices for Internet Freedom is a coalition of nearly 30 organizations advocating for communities of color in the fight to protect Internet freedom from corporate and government discrimination. The coalition is led by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Center for Media Justice, Free Press and ColorOfChange.

The following statements are from Voices for Internet Freedom leaders:

“Millions have spoken and the message is clear:  Reclassifying Internet Service Providers as common carriers is the only way to ensure that the Internet remains a level playing field for all,” said Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. ”Without reclassification, the Internet will be subject to the profit-driven whims of the large corporations that control the pipes. This will harm our free speech, activism, civic participation, education and livelihoods, disproportionately impacting Latinos and other communities who have suffered discrimination at the hands of mainstream media.”

“Communities of color understand how critical it is to protect their online digital rights from corporate discrimination,” said Joseph Torres, senior external affairs director for Free Press. “People of color are using the Internet to fight and overcome many of the economic, educational and informational barriers that fuel our nation’s growing inequality. We can’t allow the FCC to adopt fake ‘Net Neutrality’ rules that turn companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon into Internet gatekeepers while relegating people of color to second-class status online.”

“Our network believes the open Internet plays a pivotal role in ensuring racial and economic equity in the 21st century,” said amalia deloney, policy director for the Center for Media Justice and the Media Action Grassroots Network. “Without a strong legal framework that ensures the benefits of the Internet are broadly shared, our members are forced to navigate a platform that further entrenches and exacerbates harmful disparities. In particular, any devolution of Net Neutrality rules will harm independent artists, musicians and social justice advocates that currently use the open Internet to reach audiences otherwise inaccessible in a heavily corporatized and consolidated media.  Without an open Internet, these innovators and entrepreneurs face tremendous barriers to entry that choke their opportunities for creative expression, opportunity, democratic participation and community building.”

“Net Neutrality has made the Internet a level playing field for all voices, allowing Black bloggers, activists, and entrepreneurs to flourish online despite being blocked out of ownership and participation in traditional media,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.”That’s why thousands of ColorOfChange members have raised their voices in demanding strong open Internet protections and calling out deceptive arguments from the telecom lobby. The FCC must protect the open Internet if it wants to protect diversity online.”

The comments were also filed on behalf of more than 50 of our nation’s most influential grassroots groups, artists, media makers and public interest groups, as well as many of our nation’s largest Latino organizations. The groups and leaders include:

  • Voices for Internet Freedom
  • Center for Media Justice
  • ColorOfChange
  • Free Press
  • National Hispanic Media Coalition
  • AimHigh LA
  • Appalshop
  • Art Is Change
  • Chicago Media Action
  • Clarisel Media
  • Common Cause
  • Common Frequency
  • Dignity and Power Now
  • Easton Community Access Television
  • Families for Freedom, Inc.
  • Generation Justice
  • Greenlining Institute
  • Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
  • Iguana Films
  • Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice
  • Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • Latino Rebels
  • LatinoJustice PRLDEF
  • Librotraficante Movement
  • Line Break Media
  • Main Street Project
  • Martinez Street Women’s Center
  • May First/People Link
  • Media Alliance
  • Media Action Grassroots Network
  • Media Literacy Project
  • Media Mobilizing Project
  • Message Media Education
  • Mexican American Opportunity Foundation
  • MujerLatinaToday.com
  • National Association of Hispanic Journalists
  • National Association of Latino Independent Producers
  • National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
  • National Institute for Latino Policy
  • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
  • News Taco
  • Organizing Apprenticeship Project
  • Paper Tiger TV
  • The People’s Press Project
  • Presente.org
  • Radio Bilingüe
  • Ruth Livier
  • St. Paul Neighborhood Network
  • TURN (The Utility Reform Network)
  • Women, Action & the Media
  • Women In Media & News
  • Working Films
  • Working Narratives
  • Young Women United

 

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