Racial Justice Leaders Applaud Signing of Nation’s Strongest Net Neutrality Bill
Gov. Brown’s signature on California’s SB 822 seen as a major victory for communities of color
October 1st, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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SACRAMENTO, CA -- Following months of organizing by racial justice groups, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the most comprehensive Net Neutrality legislation in the country on Sunday. Brown’s signature on SB 822 came after tens of thousands of people of color, represented by groups including the Center for Media Justice (CMJ), Color of Change, 18MillionRising, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, made calls, sent in petitions, and delivered letters in support of the bill.
In addition to preventing internet service providers from blocking or prioritizing traffic online, Senator Scott Wiener's SB 822 imposes limits on data cap exemptions, often referred to as “zero rating,” which groups say unfairly deliver a second-class internet experience to low-income Californians. For Black and brown people in the state, this is seen as a historic victory which advances the ongoing civil rights fight for equal voice. The Department of Justice immediately filed a lawsuit to stop California's new law, but nevertheless SB 822 adds to the momentum building to restore open internet protections across the country.
“Digital civil rights for California’s most marginalized are now protected by the nation’s strongest Net Neutrality law. Fighting for dignity and against racism and patriarchy in the 21st century depends on the quality of our internet connection,” said Steven Renderos, campaign director at the Center for Media Justice. “That’s why racial justice leaders in California and beyond have been focused on restoring Net Neutrality. We hope our elected officials in Congress follow California’s leadership and restore Net Neutrality nationwide by passing a joint resolution to overturn the FCC’s repeal.”
As a result of yesterday’s signing, the most vulnerable Californians can continue to use the open internet to advocate for their rights, find housing, search for employment, and connect to the other resources they need to thrive. This is why CMJ and 19 members and allies of the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), including Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Muslim Advocates, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, sent a letter to Gov. Brown last month urging him to sign SB 822 immediately. Over the summer, CMJ also partnered with Color of Change to bus activists to Sacramento to advocate for Sen. Wiener’s bill, and Renderos testified in front of the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, urging legislatures to consider the civil rights and racial justice impacts of an internet without net neutrality.
“The signing of SB 822 marks a long-fought victory, particularly for Californians living on low incomes and communities of color fighting for an equal voice online. Seeing our digital civil rights under assault from the Trump Administration’s FCC, Black and brown communities have worked together to protect our right to dissent online, communicate, and share information in the 21st century. Victories like these demonstrate the power communities of color have built and continue to strengthen in the struggle to speak for ourselves and plead our own causes,” said Erin Shields, national organizer for internet rights at the Center for Media Justice.
This August, CMJ also joined the Greenlining Institute and Common Cause in filing an amicus brief as part of a lawsuit against the FCC’s 2016 repeal of Net Neutrality. And as the House considers a joint resolution of disapproval—already passed by the Senate—which would overturn that FCC decision, racial justice groups are pushing members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus to lead the fight and restore the open internet for communities of color nationwide.
Launched in 2009, the Center for Media Justice fights for racial and economic equity in a digital age. mediajustice.org
The Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) is the largest racial justice network for communication rights, access, and representation in the United States.
Voices for Internet Freedom is a coalition of organizations fighting to protect the digital rights of communities of color. Learn more at internetvoices.org.