Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
- Millionaire Tyupkin Malware ATM Hackers May Come to US, India After Hitting Europe - October 23, 2014
- BitLicense Will Allow Bitcoin Spying in New York - October 22, 2014
- Australians are Fighting Data Retention Laws - October 22, 2014
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has taken sides in the net neutrality debate. They are taking a stance against net neutrality rules that guarantee equal treatment of traffic. Over forty minority advocacy groups have also sided with broadband providers against net neutrality. They are responsible for keeping their services available to minority groups. But going against net neutrality because it is good for minority groups does not make sense.
NAACP Joins Broadband Providers against Net Neutrality
The NAACP now stands against net neutrality principles along with some forty other minority rights groups. This came as a surprise to many net neutrality advocates. Going against net neutrality at this critical stage in the debate could turn the tables. So far, those advocating for firm regulations on broadband Internet providers have come out on top. Now these groups argue that it is in the interests of minority communities to concur with major ISPs.
Many do not agree with the reasoning given by these groups. They point out that several among the groups have been supported financially by major broadband providers Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) was given about 725,000 US dollars by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and broadband Internet providers from2009 and 2011. The MMTC is responsible for filing the joint complaint for some forty civil rights groups. The groups have a long history of siding with broadband Internet providers. They were in the ISP camp to speak against net neutrality when the FCC first ruled on it. They also backed Comcast’s merger with NBC and AT&T’s attempted acquisition of T-Mobile.
Some of these civil rights groups are not against net neutrality. They are just concerned about upsetting current levels of Internet access. Groups such as the Center for Media Justice and Color of Change worry that it will cause minorities to lose their access. They say that if providers are strictly regulated, they may raise their fees. This would make broadband connections unaffordable to many. But they understand that ISPs can also raise costs if we end up with weak net neutrality guidelines. They are not against net neutrality principles. They want to see the FCC better able to regulate ISPs. They want to see that ISPs do not practice traffic discrimination.
Other groups, including the NAACP, say that it is strict regulation that will deny broadband service to minority communities. They are therefore firmly against net neutrality regulations that hurt ISPs. They explain that when ISPs get regulated, it discourages the companies from extending broadband services to areas where these minorities need it. Critics say that there is no fear of this, however, since the companies lobbying against net neutrality are not the only broadband providers around. Accepting regulation of ISPs will actually encourage competition and allow for new and emerging service providers to grow. These providers will likely spread to niche markets that Internet giants shy away from.
Tipping the Scales
It is crucial to understand why these civil rights advocacy groups are against net neutrality rules that will strictly regulate broadband Internet providers. These groups’ opinions carry a lot of weight when the government looks at the pros and cons of any decisions on policy. Deciding against net neutrality provisions for the wrong reasons will greatly affect everyone who uses the Internet today. Minority access to broadband Internet is a priority for the FCC. But they need to look at more than just what these groups are saying. They need to see past the groups’ fears to the core of how real net neutrality can provide greater benefit against policies that encourage discrimination of content access.
Some of the minority rights groups that stand against net neutrality say that financial contributions are not influencing their decisions. But other groups that support strict net neutrality and greater controls on broadband providers have lost donations from ISPs like Verizon. Donations are the lifeblood of these organizations, and the fear of losing financial support is certainly significant.
What the FCC is trying to decide right now about net neutrality is whether Internet providers should be considered telecommunications services. This would prevent broadband providers from charging content services whatever they want to carry their traffic. To go against net neutrality would therefore likely cause additional financial burden on broadband subscribers. This has been well documented. It really doesn’t make sense that minority advocates would want big companies to gain more power over Internet content distribution. An open Internet with regulations against discrimination is beneficial to all minorities. There is something else at play when minority advocates go against net neutrality.