Originally published: January 28, 2010
Last updated: January 28, 2010 - 10:23pm
[Commentary] I was troubled to learn that several Congressional Black Caucus members were among 72 Democrats to write the FCC last fall questioning the need for Net Neutrality rules. I was further troubled that a number of our nation's leading civil rights groups had also taken positions questioning or against Net Neutrality, using arguments that were in step with those of the big phone and cable companies like AT&T and Comcast, which are determined to water down any new FCC rules. Most unsettling about their position is the argument that maintaining Net Neutrality could widen the digital divide. First, let's be clear: the problem of the broadband digital divide is real. Already, getting a job, accessing services, managing one's medical care—just to mention a few examples—are all facilitated online. Those who aren't connected face a huge disadvantage in so many aspects of our society. Broadband access is a big problem — but that doesn't mean it has anything to do with Net Neutrality. Yet some in the civil rights community will tell you differently. In the coming weeks I plan to head back to DC to continue to fight for Net Neutrality. I'm hoping that on my next trip some of the anti-Net Neutrality civil rights groups or CBC members will heed my call and explain their position. I would like to believe that there is more to the "civil rights" opposition to Net Neutrality than money, politics, relationships, or just plain lack of understanding. For now, I'm doing my best to keep an open mind. But I don't think it will stay that way for much longer.