The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently voted to advance a proposal aimed at resurrecting the previously rescinded net neutrality rules. This move comes five years after the rules were repealed by the previous administration. Since net neutrality is of particular importance for African Americans as an essential tool for activism, organizing, and the dissemination of information within the community, the potential impacts of reinstatement on the Black community is a major focal point.
The Breakdown You Need To Know:
What is Net Neutrality? Simply stated it’s ‘Open Internet’ meaning people can always access any lawful content. It’s a principle that ensures all internet traffic is treated equally. It prohibits internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking, throttling, or prioritizing certain content, applications, or websites. This principle ensures that everyone has equal access to all content on the internet, without discrimination or preference.
Now that the Trump administration has done away with these rules all consumers are vulnerable. Powerful ISPs can favor content providers who have the money to pay for better access. CultureBanx reported that ultimately this impacts the quality of your internet connection but helps to increase telecommunication companies profits.
The FCC, now under Democratic control, has voted to advance a proposal to restore the net neutrality rules. It seeks to reestablish the FCC’s authority over broadband internet and reinstate the open internet rules of 2015.
Reviving Digital Equity:
Net neutrality plays a crucial role in the Black community. It ensures that everyone, irrespective of their race or economic status, has equal access to the internet. This is particularly significant for the Black community, which has historically been marginalized.
Research indicates that 91% of Black Americans use broadband services, and 17% of Black youth rely on broadband service from a smartphone. The lack of diversity in internet providers under new net neutrality rules has set Black Americans back in digital equity.
Additionally, the internet has provided a platform for Black entrepreneurs, particularly Black women, to start and grow their businesses. Restrictions on internet access has made it harder for Black entrepreneurs to compete with larger, wealthier companies, stifling innovation and economic growth in the Black community.
The proposal to reinstate net neutrality has been met with mixed reactions. Some, like Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, argue that the plan would result in government control of the internet. Others, however, argue that the absence of net neutrality rules could lead to discriminatory practices by ISPs, adversely affecting marginalized communities.
While the FCC’s proposal faces legal hurdles and public scrutiny, its potential impact on the Black community underscores the importance of net neutrality in promoting digital equity, social activism, economic growth, and digital entrepreneurship. The plan will be open for public comments before it is finalized next year.