Today, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (“MMTC”) announced that it, along with 24 National Organizations representing the interests of minorities and women across the country, filed comments before the Federal Communications Commission regarding its further inquiry into two underdeveloped issues in the Open Internet proceeding.
According to David Honig, President and Executive Director of MMTC, the groups filing in this proceeding are “committed to preserving a free and open Internet and [have] long supported the FCC’s four existing open Internet principles in addition to its proposed sixth principle of transparency.” He cautioned against application of the Commission’s fifth principle on non-discrimination, however, and “emphasize[d] that the FCC has both a legal and moral duty to ensure that its proposed rules do not – in their very ‘neutrality’ – lock into place and perpetuate the vast and current racial disparities in broadband access, adoption, and informed use.”
Honig was joined on the call by Jason LLorenz, Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (“HTTP”), an organization representing 20 Latino-focused groups across the country, who noted that HTTP also feels “that rigid net neutrality regulations [are] not the way to bring the benefits of broadband to the Hispanic community.”
Both Honig and Llorenz, as representatives of all the organizations that signed onto these comments, “propose a consumer-focused and transparency-based approach to ensure the Internet remains free and open.” They insisted that, “because of the inherent ‘shaming culture’ of the Internet, we do not need draconian enforcement mechanisms to protect consumers.”
When asked to clarify their stance on the non-discrimination principle, Honig noted that “it’s important, first, to distinguish between the two uses of this word – discrimination.”
“In its colloquial context, most people understand it to refer to discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin and so on,” he said. “The word also happens to have a meaning in classical economics, and that’s the meaning assigned to it by the FCC in connection with this proposed fifth net neutrality principle.”
Honig reiterated the importance of recognizing that MMTC and the National Organizations that joined in this filing have endorsed five of the six net neutrality principles proposed by the FCC, and that they only take issue with the potential detrimental impact that application of the economic non-discrimination principle could have on small, disadvantaged, women and minority owned businesses.
“Those five principles are what we believe are the core of what an open Internet should look like,” said Honig.
Citing concerns about reductions in jobs, investment, broadband access and adoption, MMTC in its filing encourages the Commission to take a closer look at the potential impact that too rigid rules – particularly those applied in the wireless space – could have on “the progress that’s been made with the Internet in its free wheeling, and frankly disruptive form presently, and over the last several years, toward closing the digital divide and really empowering minority communities in the digital age.”