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WASHINGTON — On Monday, 17 public interest organizations released the 2016 Internet Policy Platform, which features specific policy proposals to advance free speech, access, choice, privacy, transparency and openness. The platform is available here.

The platform signers are a diverse group of internet rights, racial justice and consumer advocacy groups including 18 Million Rising, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, Demand Progress, Free Press, New America’s Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge.   

The platform has been sent to the chairs of both parties and to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. The Democratic and Republican parties are currently convening meetings to draft their own policy priorities.

The groups endorsing the platform seek to ensure that both parties and their candidates prioritize specific internet and technology policies that promote an open, affordable and secure internet for all. It calls on policymakers to expand internet access and make it more affordable, protect Net Neutrality, oppose government-mandated backdoors into communications technologies, and promote competition among internet service providers.

“The internet has extraordinary potential to help drive social change and improve the lives of so many so quickly. But the internet’s benefits haven’t been evenly distributed,” the platform notes. “To ensure that the internet serves all of our communities — and doesn’t further inequality or discrimination — communications policies must be rooted in the principles of free speech, access, choice, privacy, transparency and openness.”

“Asian American communities are relying more and more on the internet as our social, cultural and economic lifeblood,” said Cayden Mak, chief technology officer of 18 Million Rising. “We’re concerned about making sure everyone in our diverse communities has access to broadband, regardless of their socioeconomic status, because for us, the internet means linking to our global community of friends, relatives and creative collaborators. Candidates who want the Asian American vote — a rapidly growing voting bloc that is overwhelmingly uncommitted to any party — should consider how important this platform is to us.”

“Political parties and policymakers can no longer ignore the central role the internet plays in our democracy,” said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press. “The Internet isn’t just a tool to get elected; it’s essential infrastructure that links us together and powers our economy — and as such it should be a top policy priority. As the parties draft their platforms for 2016, they must listen to the millions and millions of people who want leaders to prioritize internet and technology policies that promote opportunity and free expression for all. The 2016 Internet Policy Platform offers a roadmap for any candidate truly committed to a future where everyone can share in the benefits of an open network free of gatekeepers, surveillance and discrimination.”

“The internet has ushered in new opportunity for people who were previously unheard to challenge power and change the written and unwritten rules of what’s possible in our society,” said Brandi Collins, media justice director of ColorOfChange. “For Black folks in particular, the internet has been crucial to economic autonomy — the number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322 percent in the internet age. It has also been essential to growing a 21st-century civil rights movement for Black lives. But as with radio and television before it, the promise of a people-owned and controlled media is vulnerable to attack without regulatory intervention. We need candidates who are committed to maintaining that promise and all its possibilities.”

“Internet access, affordability and openness are 21st-century civil rights issues. We stand behind the 2016 Internet Policy Platform as a way candidates can ensure that diverse communities are included in the opportunity that an open and affordable internet can bring,” said  Jessica J. González, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “Today American Latinx, African American and Native American people are significantly less likely to have home broadband, with cost being a major barrier to adoption. Those on the wrong side of the digital divide understand that being offline puts them at a huge disadvantage in our digital society. The government must double down on efforts to close the digital divide, and preserve an open internet so that social justice activists can continue to organize online and people of color can voice their stories, which often go untold on traditional media.”

“Internet access is no longer a luxury. All Americans need access to robust, affordable service,” said Sarah Morris, director of open internet policy for New America’s Open Technology Institute. “While the current administration has made great strides to ensure that the internet remains an open platform for access, innovation and organizing, the digital divide remains stark. 2016 presidential candidates must be committed to promoting competition in the broadband marketplace, creating space for disruptive broadband models to flourish and ensuring that efforts to improve broadband adoption are recognized and supported.”

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