Center for Media Justice home of the Media Action Grassroots Network

Voices from the Frontlines: The Fight for an Open Internet

“We the people need real net neutrality to help ‘police’ the police, politicians and corporations that own them.” -Dan Yo Lay, Comedian

Why We Need An Open Internet

On May 15th over 200 people representing a broad set of allies, including the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) rallied in Washington D.C. outside of the Federal Communications Commission to protest FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal for net neutrality.  Net Neutrality is the principle that everyone’s voices online are created equal.  Chairman Wheeler’s proposal, if enacted, wouldn’t be real net neutrality.  Instead it would allow corporations like Verizon and Comcast to create fast lanes and slow lanes on the Internet.  We know that marginalized communities need the Internet because it’s a vital platform to elevate our stories, secure jobs and complete our education.  A “pay to play” Internet would ensure that the benefits of going online would only be experienced by the wealthy and privileged few.

The rally in Washington D.C. was the culmination of a week-long “occupation” as media activists camped outside of the FCC’s doors.  In the middle of growing media attention, even the Chairman partook in the occupation.  With chants declaring that “The Net United/Will Never Be Divided” the 200 protesters in attendance joined the more than 3 million people across the country who have signed petitions demanding an Open Internet.

Despite the overwhelming public outcry, the FCC voted to move the Chairman’s proposal forward.  But all hope is lost.  Before the FCC can implement any rules, it first must allow the public to comment on their proposal.  Between now and July 15th the FCC will accept comments from the public on how it should proceed on its net neutrality rules.

The Media Action Grassroots Network Strikes Back

While most of our MAG-Net members could not attend the FCC rally in person, their voices were reflected in an Instagram action we hosted on May 15th, where our members got to share their message to the FCC.  The images that emerged tell an overlooked story in the battle over the Internet.   Communities of color, rural communities, artists, organizers (and even cats) need an Open Internet just as much as tech startups do.  Click on the image below to scroll through some of the images that the MAG-Net community put together.

Thank you MAG-Net for continuing to prove that the fight for an Open Internet is not about the technology, it’s always been about the people.


About the Author

Steven Renderos is the Senior Campaign Manager at the Center for Media Justice. He is passionate about the role of media and communications in building movements for social change. He's been a community organizer for the past 10 years leading campaigns for affordable housing, immigrant rights and most recently media policy fights. He helped lead CMJ's advocacy and organizing efforts including the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, a national campaign fighting to lower the high costs of prison phone calls. Previously, Steven led the Media Justice program at Main Street Project in Minneapolis, MN where he helped jumpstart a local collaborative that will be applied for a radio license in the fall 2013. Steven aka DJ Ren is also the co-founder of Radio Pocho, a collaborative of [email protected] radio DJs in Minneapolis who's mission is to explore the musical roots of [email protected] raised in the United States. Steven currently resides in his hometown of Los Angeles, CA.

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