Our nation’s Internet freedom is under attack — and the consequences for communities of color couldn’t be greater.
The revelations that the NSA is spying on Americans — with the help of tech and broadband companies — should frighten anyone fighting for racial justice. After all, our nation has a long and shameful history of using surveillance to disrupt racial and social justice movements.
Just as scary are the moves from profit-hungry broadband providers like AT&T and Verizon to interfere with and censor our Web traffic. This behavior is even more disturbing when you consider how critical the open Internet is for mobilizing dissent, closing the racial-wealth gap and providing a platform for our stories that can counter the racial stereotypes found in so much mainstream media.
A federal court heard oral arguments on Monday in a lawsuit brought by Verizon that seeks to overturn the Open Internet order the Federal Communications Commission passed in 2010. Open Internet advocates had challenged the FCC to pass strong Net Neutrality protections that barred Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against any online content. The Commission, however, attempted to placate the industry by approving watered-down rules. But Verizon wasn’t satisfied and wants to gut the Net Neutrality protections altogether.
In court filings, Verizon argued it has the right to edit our online free speech and compared the function of broadband providers to the role of newspaper publishers. “Just as a newspaper is entitled to decide which content to publish and where,” Verizon wrote, “broadband providers may feature some content over others.”
What will happen if Verizon prevails in overturning the Net Neutrality rules? Internet service providers — including those that have colluded with the government to spy on us — will have the power to silence dissident voices fighting injustice and inequality.
To protect the digital rights of communities of color, Free Press and the Center for Media Justice, along with ColorOfChange and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, recently launched Voices for Internet Freedom.
Voices is a network of organizations advocating for communities of color in the fight to protect Internet freedom from corporate and government discrimination. We’re fighting to ensure the Internet remains an open and nondiscriminatory platform for free speech and assembly.
Click headline to read more--