Without A Net | Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Keeping the Internet neutral a big concern for ethnic groups


Henry Waxman unable to get a consensus on Net Neutrality before the congressional break at the end of September. (Photo: Center for American Progress/Flickr CC)

Network neutrality (also known as “net neutrality”) has risen from slumbering bogeyman to hot-button issue since last April’s decision by a federal appeals court favored service provider Comcast over the Federal Communications Commission, effectively allowing Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) the ability to block or slow specific sites.

Proponents of net neutrality fear this decision will allow ISP’s to offer tiers of access to the Internet, artificially creating financial demand for performance.

But this article by California Crusader News, featured on hyperlocal ethnic news collective LA Beez, notes the potential effects failing to establish net neutrality will have on artistic, lower-income and immigrant communities:

“"We produce news stories from the perspective of us immigrants," said Maria de Lourdes Gonzalez [about Mobile Voices, a project that trains low-wage immigrants to create video stories about their communities using their mobile phones and then publishes them on its site: http://vozmob.net]. She complained that mainstream media have ignored many issues facing Hispanics, African-Americans and other ethnic groups for a long time. Mobile Voices, she said, "helps us organize and mobilize our people."”

The Internet is already an effective and extremely inexpensive distribution medium, but independent artists may feel the pinch if ISP’s charge higher premiums for bandwidth capability necessary to post video or high-resolution images.

Essentially, the argument by Internet service companies such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T against network neutrality is that they would always price services competitive to customer demand, but they’ve already shown solidarity in fighting FCC regulation; what’s to stop them from banding together to raise prices for an Internet oligopoly?

For the record, conservative think tanks and bloggers are against Net Neutrality (with exceptions), as it would impede competition on the Internet, and by reductio ad absurdum, the American Way on the web.

How do you feel about net neutrality?