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Statement Supporting Net Neutrality & Opposing “Fast” and “Slow” Internet Lanes

July 14, 2014

WASHINGTON D.C. - Today members of the Board of Directors of the Women's Media Center, submitted a statement to the FCC in support of net neutrality.  We are writing to express our opposition to the recent proposal by the FCC Chairman to create a two-tiered Internet system. We strongly urge Chairman Tom Wheeler to reconsider his plans for a two-tiered system, and instead, ensure that rules in place prevent Internet Service Providers from discriminating against content providers, users or block data. 

The Internet was initially built as an open mode of communication.  In the 1990's, it grew to become an eCommerce platform, giving way to innovative companies like AOL, Facebook, Google and Etsy.  News outlets began using it to reach broader audiences and to include diverse stories.  These companies would not have been successful if there existed a tiered Internet.  Today, social media allows those that have been marginalized and discriminated against – especially women and people of color -- to tell their own stories using various modes of multimedia.

The proposal from the FCC Chairman to create a two-tiered system with “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” will allow cable and Internet Service Providers to discriminate against those who cannot afford to pay additional fees for faster Internet and will segregate what should be a public utility to fast speed and access for the haves and slower speeds and limited access for the have-nots.  This policy would mean the Internet would no longer be an open mode of communication – it would be a tiered system that only benefits the privileged.

Women use the Internet for basic communication – like the telephone.  We count on the Internet for communications related to every aspect of our lives, including economic stability, political action, news, health care, education, family and in some cases for safety as a method for support in moving families away from domestic violence.  A two-tiered Internet would mean that women and minorities would be placed into a marginalized and discriminatory position. We are against giving the power to Internet Service Providers to pick and choose content and determine the value of online content providers based solely on who can afford to pay the higher prices.

We ask that the FCC support full and equal access to the Internet for all – regardless of income and urge the FCC to reject this discriminatory proposal.  The FCC should classify the Internet as a common carrier and consider Internet Service Providers as communication services.

Jane Fonda, WMC Co-Founder
Robin Morgan, WMC Co-Founder
Gloria Steinem, WMC Co-Founder
Lauren Embrey, WMC Chair
Janet Dewart Bell, WMC Vice-Chair
Julie Burton, WMC President
Jewelle Bickford, WMC Board
Patti Chang, WMC Board
Soraya Chemaly, WMC Board
Donna Deitch, WMC Board
Maya Harris, WMC Board
Kate Hathaway, WMC Board

Geneva Overholser, WMC Board

The Women’s Media Center works to make women and girls visible and powerful in the media through strategic programs that transform the media landscape, and that include media training, media monitoring and activism, media reports, media programs, an expert database (WMC SheSource) and special initiatives.

For more information, contact Kate McCarthy or 202-587-1654.