On Feb. 7, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held its first hearing in the new Congress to discuss how to preserve an open internet for all.
Led by newly appointed subcommittee chairman and Net Neutrality champion Rep. Mike Doyle (D–PA-14), the members heard testimony from a full panel of experts, including Free Press Action’s own Vice President of Strategy and Senior Counsel, Jessica J. González.
González highlighted Net Neutrality’s significance to communities of color, noting the media’s long history of perpetuating and legitimizing White supremacy. An open internet, she said, gives people the space to share their own stories, fight for justice and challenge media misrepresentations.
“Never before in history have barriers to entry been lower for people of color to reach a large audience with our own stories in our own words; to start small businesses; to organize for change,” González said. “We are unwilling to yield our newfound access.”
González also lifted up the story of her friend Vanessa Martinez Bell, who started the blog DeSuMama.com to explore and celebrate multiracial motherhood. Thanks to an open internet, Martinez Bell has been able to cultivate a loyal following, start a successful business and build bridges of understanding across cultures.
Actress, writer and UCLA doctoral student Ruth Livier also testified to the powerful impact Net Neutrality has had on her life. Livier described being turned away by dismissive Hollywood gatekeepers when she pitched a Latina-driven TV show in the early 2000s, only to find success by producing that same show online, where she didn’t need anyone’s permission to create.
Net Neutrality also allowed Livier and a group of Latinx entertainment-media colleagues to rally against the cruelty of family separations at our southern border. “The open internet allowed us to organize and to join forces to push back against this administration’s inhumanity,” Livier said.
These stories remind us how critical Net Neutrality is for people of color and the country at large — and also underscore just how badly we need to restore strong open-internet protections.
The hearing also sparked a flurry of fake Net Neutrality bills from industry-influenced opponents peddling false compromises full of loopholes that threaten our digital rights. But we’ve fought bad bills like these before, and we’ll keep doing it until the open internet is truly restored.
Check out the video of Jessica J. González’s testimony below: