WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit just upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality and the 2015 Open Internet Order. In the wake of this disappointing decision, Voices for Internet Freedom, a coalition of activist groups that includes Color Of Change, MediaJustice, Free Press Action, 18 Million Rising and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, are concerned about how this decision will harm communities of color and their ability to access a free and open internet.
Millions of Americans rely on an open and secure internet to access basic services and pursue opportunities for economic growth, including higher education, employment, entrepreneurship and healthcare. For communities of color, the stakes are even higher. Net neutrality protections ensure that communities can organize or mobilize political engagement online, tell their own stories, and expand professional opportunities in an economy that excludes them.
The FCC’s repeal of the 2015 Order gave internet service providers (ISPs) the ability to prioritize, throttle or block content with little to no oversight. While the FCC argued that it would spark innovation and economic growth, the repeal simply gave ISPs the power to restrict people of color from accessing greater economic opportunity , fighting for civil rights and exercising their First Amendment rights.
With today’s decision, the Court has chosen corporations over the public. Voices for Internet Freedom will continue to fight to ensure that our internet is open, accessible and beneficial for all people so that communities of color can speak for themselves without interference from corporate gatekeepers.
Regardless of the Court’s decision today, Voices for Internet Freedom will continue to fight for an free and open internet that is accessible without discrimination.
Statements from the Voices for Internet Freedom public interest organizations across the country regarding this issue are listed below:
Erin Shields, National Field Organizer, MediaJustice
"Today’s court ruling, despite deferring to the FCC, affirms what open internet organizers and activists have known since December 2017: this repeal was done sloppily, without oversight or accountability, and was not in the interest of internet users—especially those living on low incomes. MediaJustice will continue to work in the Senate, and at the state level nationwide, to pass legislation that further affirms the right of communities of color to access an internet that is open, secure, and affordable."
Cayden Mak, Executive Director, 18 Million Rising
"Today’s court decision is a slap in the face for Asian Americans and communities of color who have fought for our civil rights for generations. The current fight over net neutrality is the latest battle in an old war over whose voices can be heard. We will continue to organize our communities to reinstate net neutrality because a free and open Internet is a fundamental part of our rights to free expression and assembly, without fear of unequal treatment, cost, or suppression."
Carmen Scurato, Senior Policy Counsel, Free Press
“Today’s court decision is an unfortunate setback that simply compounds what work remains in our fight for a free and open internet, that is affordable, and safe for our communities. When the FCC repealed Net Neutrality in 2017, nowhere did it conduct a genuine inquiry into the opportunities a free and open internet creates for communities of color. Nor did it examine the effects of handing over enormous power from these communities to corporations that possess no financial incentive to protect those opportunities and freedoms. It is now imperative that the Senate pass the Save the Internet Act and restore the legal foundation for the strong and enforceable Net Neutrality rules that protect the voices of communities of color. The fight for our digital civil rights continues.”
Alex Nogales, President & CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition
“NHMC is deeply troubled by the Court’s decision to come out on the wrong side of history and chose to bolster corporate power over justice for American consumers--including the largest minority U.S. population, Latinos. The upholding of the Federal Communication Commission's haste repeal of the 2015 Order is yet another wound to democracy and the rights of marginalized communities under the Trump Administration. Consumers in this country, particularly Latinx consumers, are still left unprotected and the time for action by lawmakers is now. NHMC will continue to fight alongside allies for an internet ecosystem that is fair and accessible for all people, not just those with deep pockets.”