Tags: Fox News | net neutrality | internet | regulation | FCC

Civil Rights Groups Break Ranks on Net Neutrality

By    |   Monday, 08 Dec 2014 09:01 AM

President Barack Obama’s call to impose stricter regulations on the Internet has sharply divided civil rights groups, according to The New York Times.

The issue is known as net neutrality — that Internet service providers should provide equal access to all content providers.

Last month, Obama asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality "and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can see online."

If the government approves the regulations, Internet users would likely be hit with a new federal tax, part of the Universal Service Fund, on their monthly bills, according to Mike O’Reilly, one of the five members of the FCC Commission, Fox News reports.

O'Reilly told Fox that "history clearly shows that the fees would quickly be passed off to customers, just like they are now on monthly phone bills."

The NAACP, the National Urban League, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the League of United Latin American Citizens all oppose new regulations, according to the Times.

A group of representatives from some of those organizations recently met with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and told him that regulating broadband Internet service as a utility would be detrimental to minority communities because it would stifle investment in underserved areas and entrench the already powerful Internet providers.

But the black political coalition ColorofChange.org and the National Hispanic Media Coalition support stricter regulations that would make Internet access tantamount to electricity or water service.

"The civil rights community is like every sector anywhere. While from the outside it seems like a monolith, it is not," Cheryl A. Leanza, policy adviser for the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, told the Times. The paper which noted that Leanza was part of an 11-member group that included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, but unlike Jackson, she supports the president’s call for more Internet regulation.

In his statement on the subject, posted on WhiteHouse.gov, Obama lays out his rationale for reclassification.

"Net neutrality has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted," he said. "We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.

"That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.

"I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online."

Under current laws, broadband Internet is currently classified as a Title 1 information service, meaning it is "lightly regulated," according to the Times.

President Obama supports reclassifying it as a Title II service, just like telephone companies, whose rates can be regulated by the FCC.

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President Obama's call to impose stricter regulations on the Internet, a plan known as net neutrality, has sharply divided civil rights groups — and it's likely to result in a new federal tax on Internet use, reports say.
net neutrality, internet, regulation, FCC
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2014-01-08
Monday, 08 Dec 2014 09:01 AM
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