Originally published: February 24, 2010
Last updated: February 24, 2010 - 10:02pm
[Commentary] Full broadband adoption and open Internet protections are both possible -- if, and only if, the Federal Communications Commission defines broadband as a universal service and ensures the strongest possible protections for an open Internet.
Communities of color and the poor cannot thrive with less. It's time for our voices to be heard. The truth is, strong open Internet protections encourage investment and deployment, because they prevent ISPs from profiting from artificial scarcity; and nothing about network neutrality will prevent ISPs from charging heavy users more. The only reason additional costs would be dumped on poor and working class consumers is if private companies are given too much rope to hang us with. We can prevent that by ensuring the FCC imposes strong non-discrimination protections in network neutrality rules, thereby limiting corporate control over the Internet. I support -- and I believe Mr. Steele would agree -- stopping corporate bullies, not rewarding them with more control. It's clear that the civil rights mandate is to ensure full broadband access and adoption while defending representation online.
Many members of the civil rights community agree that the best way to narrow the digital divide is to define broadband as a universal service, and codify the strongest open Internet rules possible that narrowly define reasonable network management and ensure that every voice and idea has a chance by preventing the blocking or prioritizing of content based on profit. But some in the civil rights community are legitimately concerned that limiting the ability of wealthy corporations to increase their profit through broad and discriminatory management of their networks might have a negative impact on broadband build out and access for communities of color, the poor, and other historically disenfranchised groups. As a result, they are hesitant to support rules that may curtail the flexibility of corporate media giants to block or prioritize content to make money.
But the fight for an open Internet is a fight for our mothers, our children, and our future. Let's not be confused. The fight for an open Internet is an inter-generational fight that requires all members of the civil rights community -- veterans and leaders of a new generation -- to have the foresight and clarity to respond effectively to a new generation of media problems and opportunities. None of us should be willing to cede representation to get access, or accept any less than the strongest Open Internet protections possible.
- Who Will Defend the Rights of People of Color to an Open Internet? We Speak for Ourselves.
- A New Civil Rights Mandate: Champion Open Networks to Close the Digital Divide
- The Internet Must Not Become a Segregated Community
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- The Internet Strikes Back: Why the Internet Needs Jedi Knights
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- In Defense of Sub-Standard Cell Phone Service: Big Media Gets Rescued. Again.
- FCC to make move on broadband reclassification, network neutrality
- Civil Rights Groups Speak Up for Network Neutrality
- Bobby Rush Faults FCC Network Neutrality Proposal For Not Helping Low-Income Americans
- Free Press Summit: Ideas to Action
- Russians on New Domains
- Network Neutrality's Impact on Low Income Communities: Equal Access for All
- Clyburn Says Network Neutrality Is in Minorities' Interest (updated w/add'l links)
- 31st Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunication Lecture and Awards Breakfast