Civil rights groups must support Net Neutrality
Civil rights are fundamentally about protecting fairness, equality, and freedom for all people. Net neutrality is about protecting fairness, equality and freedom for all online data. From a values perspective, these two concepts are functionally equivalent.
Values aren’t everything
Unfortunately, these shared values are not convincing enough for some civil rights organizations. The Broadband Opportunity Coalition (which, ironically, has no website) consists of the National Urban League, the Asian American Justice Center, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Council of La Raza, and other groups that argue for fairness and equality every day.
Well, every day they’re not talking about net neutrality. On their off days, they “question” the impact of net neutrality in letters to the FCC:
If the history of civil rights in America teaches us anything, it is that facially neutral laws and regulations are not always applied neutrally to the constituencies we represent. We certainly don’t want that to happen to Internet regulation too, and we’re very concerned that, despite your very best intentions, some aspects of net neutrality might not turn out to be neutral as applied to our constituencies.
They don’t come out and say it, but this is setting the table for their rejection of fair content distribution online.
Neutral networks lead to empowered communities
The truth is network neutrality is critical to ensuring equal access to the Internet, its content, and the empowerment that comes with that. Without network neutrality protection, ISPs and telecom companies will have free reign to discriminate against the distribution of content created by minority producers. This will make the Internet just like other mass media channels in which the authentic voices of people of color have been marginalized.
Fairness, equality, and freedom must be protected on and offline.