Court Decision Ensures All Voices Equal Online

The Center for Media Justice (CMJ) and organizational members of the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) applaud the U.S. District Court of Appeals decision today to uphold the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Net Neutrality rules.

Last year the FCC adopted open Internet protections to prevent Internet Service Providers from slowing down or blocking lawful content online. They extended Net Neutrality protections to wireless users as more people, particularly those in communities of color, depend on their smartphone for Internet access.

Shortly after the FCC’s rules were passed last year, broadband providers sued the FCC in an attempt to strike down these rules. The court’s decision today affirms that the Net Neutrality rules are legal and that the FCC has the authority to implement and enforce these rules.

“The Center for Media Justice and our affiliate members of the Media Action Grassroots Network are thrilled that the FCC's Net Neutrality order has been upheld in the courts.This decision affirms what we knew all along, the FCC had the authority to ensure that all voices are equal online. The courts sided with the will of millions of people and hundreds of social justice organizations that fought for an open Internet. It’s time for companies like Comcast and AT&T to stop trying to undermine the voices of marginalized communities through practices that subject people to a second-class Internet experience,” said Steven Renderos, Senior Campaign Manager at CMJ.

“For communities of color, LGBTQ communities, Muslims, America’s poor, and all those whose voices have been pushed to the margins - this court ruling is an absolute victory,” said Malkia Cyril, Executive Director at CMJ.

During the lead up to the FCC’s Net Neutrality order, members of MAG-Net played a pivotal role in ensuring the voices of the Internet’s most vulnerable users, people of color, were visible in demanding an open Internet. MAG-Net led a delegation of Black organizers that met with the FCC and members of Congress to share how an open Internet has been critical for the movement for Black lives.   

“Today’s court decision to protect Net Neutrality protects the voices of organizers and all those who care about justice,” said Chinyere Tutashinda, National Organizer at CMJ.  “A free and open Internet is crucial in our fight against the steady rise of hate speech in this country.”

The following are quotes attributable to organizational members of the Media Action Grassroots Network:

“The digital divide, discrimination, and free speech violations are real harms that communities of color experience every day.  For communities of color, the Internet is a critical tool for creating and accessing content that is important to those communities, narrowing the digital divide, and organizing and advocating for issues important to communities of color.  The Greenlining Institute commends the D.C. District Court of Appeals for upholding the FCC’s robust net neutrality rules.”

Orson Aguilar, President, The Greenlining Institute

"Today, the court fully affirmed the Federal Communications Commission's power to regulate the internet for consumers, not for Comcast.  For many years, millions of people have battled for our right to speak and be heard without interference from the huge corporations that profit from our need to communicate. Now, the court has proven that the FCC can and must protect our voices and to protect the internet as a human right. Here in Philadelphia, the poorest big city in America, with thousands of people offline because of poverty - we are celebrating this massive victory for net neutrality - a principle that plays a big part in the FCC expanding affordable Internet nationwide through the Lifeline program.  And we will continue to fight to protect and expand our ability to build movements for justice on the essential platform of the Internet - here in Philly, in this country, and around the world."

Hannah Sassaman, Policy Director, Media Mobilizing Project

“Today's verdict is not surprising as a matter of law. It is how the case should have been decided. But justice doesn't always come in the face of powerful industries. It took a massive public uprising to arrive at this day. This victory belongs to the people of the United States who would not take no for an answer.”

Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director, Media Alliance

"The Court of Appeals has protected a fundamental right: the right to communicate freely using a technology that was created by and has been improved by its users and not its sellers. But it also teaches us a lesson. Organized action by people who won't give up can win major victories in the struggles for our rights. We can win and this is a model for how to do it."

Alfredo Lopez, Leadership Committee, May First/People Link

“This is a key decision to ensuring an open, accessible public communications system with

adequate safeguards to provide equal and nondiscriminatory access to the Internet for all consumers. With more and more of our vital communications traveling through broadband networks we must protect consumers and without such safeguards, the digital divide will continue to grow.”

Ana Montes, Organizing Director, The Utility Reform Network

"Local community voices, especially remote rural and low-income folks, require an open Internet to protect from potential abuses of absentee owners and profiteers who seek to control the marketplace of ideas. Today's ruling affirms the principle of open networks.  As we celebrate this solid victory, we also know that eternal vigilance will be required to maintain freedom of information and expression for all."

Sean McLaughlin, Executive Director, Access Humboldt