January 21, 2022
January 21, 2022
Why should Latinos care about Net Neutrality?
By: Julio Chavez, NHMC Policy Fellow
On January 28th, California’s Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of upholding the state’s Net Neutrality law. The court’s decision ensures that California can continue to regulate internet providers and ban them from blocking consumer access to specific websites. Although the ruling is a big win for Net Neutrality, it is essential to start a discussion about the future of federal Net Neutrality laws and how they affect Latinx communities nationwide.
Access to the internet is necessary for a successful future across all communities in today’s world. The internet is evolving, and with it comes the opportunity for the Latinx community to have equitable, digital rights and fully–and safely–participate in the digital economy. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2015 Open Internet Order provided the strongest rules regarding regulation and guidelines to protect both consumers and providers. The order upholds Title II provisions that classify Broadband Internet Access Services (BIAS) as a “telecommunications service.” Doing so ensures that any Internet Service Provider (ISP) can no longer prioritize, throttle, or block digital content, meaning that companies would not be allowed to slow down users’ access to certain websites over others. Additionally, under Title II, the FCC had the authority and responsibility to hold investigations regarding net neutrality violations. These regulations became instrumental in ensuring that content is treated equally regardless of a consumers’ buying power or socioeconomic status.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration repealed the 2015 regulations and consumer protections in 2017, recategorizing BIAS as an “information service” and relinquishing the FCC’s authority to regulate net neutrality. NHMC was instrumental in the fight to uphold the 2015 Open Internet Order and was one of the head litigants in opposition to its repeal. Since then, NHMC has worked hard to restore protections from the 2015 Open Internet Order, as we believe that an open and free internet is a critical part of closing the digital divide.
Latinx still face an uphill battle with internet access, with over a third of Latinx families not having access to adequate internet connection at home. The consequences of disconnection became even more apparent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in low-income communities where technology and accessibility were not adequate to meet demands. As a community, we should be fighting to lower all barriers to internet access–including our vulnerability to discrimination by ISPs without net neutrality regulations in effect.
At NHMC, we believe net neutrality prevents the internet from mirroring how our community has been silenced and discriminated against in real life. For Latinx specifically, an open internet translates to:
The Latinx community has dealt with online censorship and discrimination for far too long. As the FCC nears the confirmation of its fifth commissioner, we call on the Latinx community to join us in advocating for the restoration of the 2015 Open Internet Order. Our voices must be unified clearly: we need net neutrality to close the digital divide within Latinx and other historically marginalized communities.