Minority Coalition Backs Applying Net Regs to Wireless

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The divide over network neutrality rules between coalitions of groups representing various minority interests was in evidence again this week as the Federal Communications Commission collected comments on its proposed expansion and codification of its Internet openness guidelines.

While the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, representing a couple dozen groups, said it continued to have deep concerns about the rules and their impact on diversity, the Media Action Grassroots Network and Latinos For Internet Freedom, comprising about as many groups (including the National Hispanic Media Coalition [NHMC] and Free Press), told the FCC it needed to apply those rules to all platforms, including wireless broadband, to promote diversity.

"As the comments note, people across the U.S. are using the mobile wireless Internet to promote social justice and democratic discourse, which is just one of many reasons why an open Internet without gatekeepers and discrimination is essential," said Jessica González, vice president of policy and legal affairs for NHMC, which drafted the comments.

The groups also said that the FCC was right to ask whether network neutrality rules should be applied to specialized services -- they called it a potential loophole -- but they said the FCC should not weigh in without collecting more info. By Contrast, MMTC called network neutrality rules potentially draconian regs that were unnecessary given the Internet culture's ability to shame companies to shame any bad actors into compliance.

Both proponents and opponents of the FCC's net neutrality regs have found supporters among minority organizations. Some argue that the regs could chill investment and innovation and thus widen the gap between the digital haves and the have nots, the latter which are disproporationately minorities. Others aver that the rules will protect diverse voices from being discriminated against online by gatekeepers controlling access.

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