This year marked the official launch of Black Voices for Internet Freedom, sister organization to Latinos for Internet Freedom.
Black Voices for Internet Freedom and Latinos for Internet Freedom are coalitions of local, regional and national Black and Latino organizations and leaders coming together to keep the Internet open and free from discrimination. The coalitions are designed to elevate a new generation of social justice and civil rights leaders who understand the interconnection of communication rights, civil rights and human rights.
One of the major initiatives is to preserve net neutrality for communities of color, community organizers, social justice advocates, artists, and small business owners.
In November, the US Senate voted (46-52) to reject a resolution (S.J. Res. 6) to repeal the net neutrality rules put in place earlier this year by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC net neutrality rules prohibit telecommunications companies from promoting their online services while blocking those of competitors. The rules also prevent companies from limiting or preventing customers from accessing any legal content, applications or services.
The FCC also prohibited companies that provide wired Internet service from what the FCC deems unreasonable discrimination in their treatment of access to content and services. This was put in place due to the fact that there are fewer providers than in the wireless industry.
Without these rules in place, corporations like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon would have unrestricted power and control over the Internet. These conglomerates would be able to limit access and increase prices so high that independent voices and diverse perspectives are blocked out. Members of rural, Native, low income and ethnically diverse communities will have even more challenges starting businesses and sharing content that is relevant to their own communities. Open Internet rules create the opportunity for communities of color to have fair access to this essential tool.
In 2012, CMJ and our media justice partners remain staunchly committed to maintaining an open Internet. We want to make sure our communities have full access to this important communications system and can continue to use this essential tool to organize around critical justice issues and strengthen the economic well being of our families and communities.