Civil Rights And Media Groups To FCC: Reclassify Internet Service Providers As Common Carriers

Jul 18, 2014


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:


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.