In a stunning new development that observers say could significantly impact the ongoing debate regarding net neutrality, Big Government has confirmed that sixteen minority and civil rights groups recently submitted a joint filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) raising red flags regarding the policy’s potential effects.
The filing, submitted on January 14, represents the collective views of the ASPIRA Association, the Black College Communications Association, the Hispanic Institute, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of United Latin American Citizens, MANA, A National Latina Organization, the National Association of Black County Officials, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Conference of Black Mayors, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation-Black Women’s Roundtable, the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, the National Puerto Rican Coalition, and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Telecommunications policy experts called the filing “historic,” in view of the sheer number of civil rights organizations participating, but also hard-hitting. The comments, written by David Honig of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, state that “[T]his proceeding implicates one of the most important civil rights issues of our time.”
The comments go on to note that broadband adoption among minorities remains sluggish and that as such, minorities stand to gain or lose a great deal depending on how events play out.
Net neutrality, the filing indicates, could be another example of a policy designed to be neutral, but which impacts those historically disadvantaged much more, and more adversely, than others within the population. Writes Honig, “…even apparently universal and neutral federal programs can widen existing disparities. As we now continue the transition into a digital age, the Commission should ensure that its efforts to promote a free and open Internet for all do not end up leaving minorities and other groups lacking equal access to broadband behind.”
Some minority groups participating in the filing had previously expressed concern about the likely impact of net neutrality on their constituencies, and proponents of net neutrality have sought to portray the development as nothing new.
However, observers say the fact that so many groups are setting off the same alarm bells–and that fact is being publicized– could bring real pressure to bear upon the FCC at a critical time.
The FCC is set to issue its National Broadband Plan next month.