McLean, VA. — In light of the recent court ruling that would block proposed rules to preserve a free and open Internet, UNITY: Journalists of Color urges the Federal Communications Commission to promptly take the legal steps necessary to reclaim its authority to regulate broadband networks.
Contact: Onica Makwakwa
UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.
UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. representing more than 8,000 journalists through its member alliances: National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native American Journalists Association and Asian American Journalists Association, says last week’s federal court decision in Comcast vs. FCC will have a chilling effect on the ability of the FCC to promote an open and accessible Internet.
UNITY urged the commission to reclassify broadband as a “telecommunications service” or a basic utility subject to strict regulation, and thereby reversing actions taken by previous commissions during the Bush administration, which favored a deregulatory approach.
“This ruling is very disappointing,” said UNITY president Barbara Ciara, following policy talks Friday between UNITY board members, FCC commissioners Michael J. Copps and Mignon Clyburn, and staffers or representatives for the other three commissioners. “Without the authority to set net neutrality rules, the FCC cannot promote a level playing field. It is imperative that our communities of color have the opportunity to tell stories and grow businesses without interference from corporate gatekeepers.”
The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC had overstepped its jurisdiction under current law when it attempted to impose net neutrality rules on Comcast, which had blocked its subscribers from using the file-sharing website BitTorrent. Comcast sued arguing that the FCC did not have the authority to enforce Internet regulations.
“UNITY opposes any technological, legislative, or content strategies to block innovation and free speech on the Internet.” Ciara continued. “Communities of color may already have trouble accessing the Internet. The court essentially opened the door to multi-tiered download speeds and discrimination on the Internet. Companies or individuals who can pay more may get faster downloads for their websites while those who can’t may be relegated to ‘second-class’ digital citizenship.”
UNITY believes universal access to the Internet is a basic right and that the needs of society are best served when diverse viewpoints are reflected and readily shared. UNITY urges the FCC to
reestablish its authority and look for alternative strategies to promote an available, accessible, and affordable Internet in order to maintain a free flow of ideas and vibrant democracy.
“The integrity of the Internet depends upon the inclusion of multiple media voices and communities of color,” Ciara said. “UNITY will continue to advocate for policies that allow those voices to be heard.”