Congresswoman Waters Urges the Protection of Net Neutrality Rules
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters delivered the following remarks at an event sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and The Voices for Internet Freedom celebrating the 2-year anniversary since the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to protect Net Neutrality. Her remarks as prepared for delivery are as follows:
“Good Afternoon! I want to tell you how truly delighted I am to join you this afternoon with the Voices of Internet Freedom Coalition and Congressional Progressive Caucus, all in recognition of our historic win on “net neutrality.” I want to thank Joe Torres and Free Press for the invitation and all of our panelists here for your unwavering efforts to protect our nation’s media landscape.
“Free Press and I have worked on so, so many big issues over the years. From Net Neutrality, the Comcast-NBC merger, and down to the failed AT&T-T-Mobil merger, I could always count on Free Press and our small group of public interest advocates to stand on the side of consumers, communities of color, and our young people who most especially understand the stakes in our digital media landscape. Young men and women have now grown up in a social media era. They have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and they understand how important Internet Freedom is to their ability to express their views online.
“I recall our years of hard work together to raise public awareness about the importance of internet freedom and why net neutrality rules needed to apply to wireless and broadband providers. We fought against the large telecom companies, the Republicans, and even some Democrats.
“In fact, it was in late 2009, just as we were beginning our efforts on the Comcast-NBC merger, that I first became involved in “net neutrality.” I initiated meetings with Free Press and staff from the Media Access Project – an organization that I know many of you remember (it no longer exists).
“I became aware at that time just how important net neutrality was for the African American and Hispanic communities who according to Pew Research relied disproportionately on wireless access to the internet through mobile phones.
“It was then in early 2010 that I wrote the FCC supporting its efforts to establish sensible guidelines to ensure that the Internet remained an open and vibrant platform for creativity and innovation. From there, many fights in Congress, at the FCC, and in the courts ensued. From the moment the FCC under President Obama set an agenda to adopt net neutrality rules, it was met with resistance by industry and Congressional opponents who proceeded to fight the FCC’s efforts every step of the way.
“I criticized the rules first adopted by the FCC as inadequate and believed they did not go far enough to afford mobile wireless users the same open Internet protections. This is why I was so pleased, after many years of fighting, that the FCC was able to approve net neutrality rules in 2015 that applied both to wireless and wireline networks.
“Everyone here understands the importance of Internet Freedom to many of the important social movements we have seen today. For example, Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March on Washington D.C., and the protests at Standing Rock all relied on the freedom of the Internet to reach audiences that might not have otherwise been reached. The Internet and social media have empowered individuals and communities all across this country to organize and mobilize in unprecedented numbers. You have to ask yourself, who would benefit in any attempt to roll back Internet freedoms?
“A free and open internet doesn’t just help communities from an organizing perspective; it also lowers barriers for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and startups. Net Neutrality is good for small business growth. Just think, would Google or Uber or Amazon exist today if they had to battle Internet Service Providers in their early stages of development? There are countless small businesses and entrepreneurs out there right now who are fighting that same fight. And without Net Neutrality rules protecting their right to the internet, their businesses might not have the opportunity to succeed.
“Yet, even as we are gathered here today to commemorate our victory, we know that net neutrality rules will face renewed opposition from emboldened opponents who see opportunities to weaken the rules under a new FCC Commissioner, the Republican-controlled Congress, and an out-of-control White House. Despite these tough odds, I know that we can make our case and that with continued advocacy from organizations such as the ones in this room, we can prevail.
“Once again, I want to thank you all for having me here today. I want you to know I am with you in this fight. I’ve committed to fighting the Trump Administration every step of the way as he begins to dismantle the progress we made under the Obama Administration. Please stay engaged, follow me on Twitter, send me tweets and retweets. I want to hear from you and please know I will always be one of your biggest allies in Congress!”