MAG-Net Calls on the FCC to Protect the Open Internet, and Our Communities Now!

On Tuesday, a federal court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet Order. The ruling means that companies like AT&T and Verizon can censor, block and interfere with Internet traffic and content.

The court ruling also struck down the FCC’s legal authority to protect an open Internet.

In 2010, the FCC passed the Open Internet Order – or Net Neutrality rules.  Though flawed, the order was intended to provide some protections against discrimination online by broadband companies that provide us with Internet access.

The 170 members of the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) call on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to quickly reestablish the Commission’s authority to protect the open Internet. The court's decision to kill open Internet rules will have a detrimental impact on communities of color and other marginalized groups.  It wIll force small organizations and businesses to compete with the biggest websites, will set a price point that many can't afford, and expand an almost uncrossable digital divide.

The following are statements from our members across the country:

"Striking down net neutrality rules  means small websites will have to compete with the largest websites, creating anti-competitive practices", said Bryan Mercer, co-Executive Director of Media Mobilizing Project, "The court's decision raises the barriers for small business, and inhibits economic growth for the most vulnerable communities. Organized labor is already under attack and people are still suffering from a lingering recession.  This decision would further deregulate an already under-regulated telecom industry- and that's something neither workers nor broadband users can afford."

"The Net Neutrality rules that prevented both discrimination and blocking online made it possible for rural people to share their art, news, and products with the world on the same open platform as major outlets, and for the same price.  These rules allowed them to find content that reflects their lives instead of relying on commercial media's skewed version of rural reality," said Edyael Casaperalta of Center for Rural Strategies.  "

It is unfortunate that the DC Circuit Court decided to strike down these two very important rules. Now we look to the FCC to affirm its authority to regulate Internet providers and ensure that the rules of openness and non-discrimination that have been so central to the Internet continue to be observed."

“The loss of an open Internet has a deep impact in New Mexican communities. In a state where over 60% of our communities are Indigenous and Latino, we are disproportionately impacted. We know that low-income, people of color, and rural communities are already often denied access to the communication tools they need. The end of net neutrality will hinder access to many of the services and perspectives that represent our communities, making it even more difficult to challenge structures of discrimination,” Andrea Quijada, executive director of Media Literacy Project, said.

"The court's decision reinforces the FCC's existing authority to encourage broadband infrastructure deployment-- authority it should use to remove state barriers to community owned networks, of which there are nineteen presently. The lesson for local communities is simple: while the FCC should, and must, assert its authorty to restore network neutrality- we may not be able rely on DC for important consumer protections.  Communities should invest in their own accountable broadband networks." Christopher Mitchell of Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said.

"In 2010, our members partnered with dozens of organizations and together a movement won the first network neutrality rules in the nation," said Betty Yu, Membership Organizer at the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net). "Those FCC rules cemented in place the principles of openness and non-discrimination that have always been at the heart of the Internet.  Today, the DC court broke our hearts , and the heart of the nation, by rejecting these principles, and instead cementing in place an Internet that more closely resembles the pay to play system of cable TV.

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The Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) is a movement building network of 170 grassroots, social justice, media and arts organizations collaborating nationally for cultural rights, media access, and popular representation in the U.S.  MAG-Net confronts the complex media and cultural conditions of the 21st century through a cross-sector, multi-issue, and action-oriented approach to strengthen movements for racial justice, economic equity, and human rights.

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