In a report by The Intercept, certain civil rights groups, funded by telecoms, support Donald Trump’s plan to kill net neutrality. Established by the Obama administration, these neutrality rules stop ISPs from controlling network bandwidth to prioritize certain content over others.
Will this be the end of Net Neutrality?
Under Obama, the FCC created rules to establish net neutrality by reclassifying high-speed Internet as a regulated telecommunications service, instead of an information service. This ensured that ISPs couldn’t interfere with network speeds, like in T-Mobile’s Binge On! program.
But the FCC under Trump, with its new Chairman Ajit Pai (former lawyer for Verizon), looks set to roll back the re-classification, thereby ending net neutrality. And it turns out that civil rights groups support the end of Net Neutrality, and telecoms fund them.
Last week, in a joint letter released by the NAACP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, OCA and the National Urban League, criticized the legal tools that the Obama administration used to make net neutrality the norm.
The letter goes on to say that instead of classifying broadband as a public utility, rules of the open internet should change to a statute. This means that Congress—led by Republicans—should control the entire process. This is precisely what telecoms want.
Telecom buys off civil rights groups
It turns out that the letter was organized by the Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council (MMTC). Telecoms fund this group, and it frequently encourages the civil rights groups to oppose net neutrality. In fact, MMTC receives roughly a third of its budget from sponsorships from Comcast, AT&T, Charter, and Verizon.
This isn’t new either. Back in 2010, the NAACP partnered with the MMTC on an argument that net neutrality was a waste of resources. They said further that the FCC should focus on “more pressing racial discrimination and exclusionary hiring and promotion practices of certain Silicon Valley high-tech companies.”
Kim Keenan, president of MMTC, even complimented Ajit Pai:
“He is really focused on closing the digital divide. As an advocate, I feel so much pride that that [sic] it is a priority for his chairmanship.”
The future of the internet is uncertain. It sounds like the telecom industry will maintain a chokehold on a free and open internet.