In September 2011, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative hosted an event with Free Press to advocate Internet freedom. Media reform representatives from the Black and Latino communities participated in the event, and over two hundred people watched online, in the call to keep the Internet open and free from discrimination. Internet freedom and diversity are critical, as Joseph Torres, the author of the book News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media asserted: “We need Black voices and Latino voices for Internet freedom to make sure their voices are heard and not dismissed by the Federal Communications Commission, Congress or the Obama Administration.”
Following Mr. Torres’ speech, panelists discussed the importance of Internet freedom and network neutrality to communities of color. As Rev. Patterson claimed, a truly free Internet is one where people of color can afford access to the Internet and open technologies. The AT&T and T-Mobile merger, he said, would bring about the opposite result. Jessica Gonzalez added that people of color constitute nearly 50% of T-Mobile's customers, a crucial figure because T-Mobile's plans are more affordable. The AT&T and T-Mobile merger might end up making customers pay more than the current price, she worried. Elandria Williams said that open and affordable access is vital because students, even at the elementary school level, need to do homework assignments on line and on a computer.
And while the Federal Communications Commission has released a Report and Order establishing protections for broadband service to preserve and reinforce Internet freedom and openness, the FCC’s current net neutrality rules provide few protections for wireless users. Amalia Deloney explained that the weak net neutrality rules for wireless bring separate and unequal Internet experiences for people of color, and argued that this must be solved to keep both wireline and wireless Internet free.
Video highlights from the discussion can be viewed above, while video and audio recordings of the full event are available at right.