WASHINGTON — The Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition, which fights for the digital rights of communities of color, applauds the NAACP for calling on the Federal Communications Commission to protect Net Neutrality and supporting the agency’s legal authority to enforce its rules.

In a column published last week in The Hill, Derrick Johnson, the NAACP’s interim president and CEO, wrote:

Photo credit: Stephen D. Melkisethian via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

“With the fate of net neutrality on the line, the NAACP urges Chairman Pai to respect the congressional intent behind Title II of the Telecommunications Act, to protect the free flow of information and not jeopardize it by removing high-speed broadband from the equalizing framework of Title II. ISPs should not be able to discriminate against any information, or against any groups of people, based on their profit margins or their whims. Information is power and no one should be allowed to strip that power away — and definitely not on our watch.”

In 2015, the Obama FCC adopted strong Net Neutrality rules that prohibit internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from blocking, censoring or discriminating against any online content. The FCC also took the critical step of reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers under Title II, which ensures the agency has the legal authority to enforce its rules. But Chairman Pai is now seeking to dismantle those regulations and kill Net Neutrality.

In the past, the NAACP has opposed the creation of strong and enforceable Net Neutrality rules. The Voices Coalition applauds Mr. Johnson and the NAACP for standing up to protect the online voices of the Black community and communities of color at large at this crucial moment as the Trump administration tries to destroy our ability to speak freely online.

The Voices coalition urges the NAACP, and all groups that support the Title II Net Neutrality rules, to clearly state their position during the current FCC reply-comment period, which ends on Aug. 30.

The following statements are from strategic partners in the Voices coalition:

“As we stand in a moment where White supremacists violently march through the streets of Charlottesville and cities across our nation, the cornerstone that activists are using to strengthen our social movements and build organized resistance is also under attack,” said Color Of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “For over a century, the NAACP has been on the frontlines of the fight for civil and human rights and we commend their support of the Title II Net Neutrality protections. Our ability to have our voices heard in this democracy depends on an open internet and we now come together to fight this attack on our 21st-century civil rights and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan that would devastate Black communities.”

“For more than 100 years, the NAACP has been at the forefront of fights for the civil and human rights of Black communities,” said Center for Media Justice Executive Director Malkia Cyril. “As a powerful new civil rights movement emerges, legacy civil rights organizations remain necessary partners in the fight for an open, affordable and secure internet. Working together, we can win an internet that drives Black opportunity, protects Black dissidence and enables Black political power in the face of corporate consolidation and government authoritarianism that would shut our voices down. After fighting for more than a decade to defend the open internet, the Center for Media Justice applauds the NAACP’s support of Net Neutrality, protected by Title II, and shares the hope that Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, will enforce the 2015 Open Internet Order instead of continuing to work for its repeal. We know that in a digital age democracy cannot thrive until Black voices matter and are protected by an open internet.”

Voices for Internet Freedom also wants to recognize that the Rev. William Barber II, who recently stepped down as president of the North Carolina NAACP, has supported Net Neutrality for several years, including the 2015 rules adopted by the Obama FCC.

He said two years ago: “The Web is a place where all Americans have an equal voice regardless of color, regardless of economic status or beliefs, and we need to keep it that way. An open internet is vital for our organizing efforts in social justice here in North Carolina and around the country.”

The Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition is a national organizing project led by the Center for Media Justice, Free Press, Color Of Change and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.


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