A Note on Net Neutrality

To Our National, State, and Local Elected Officials,

Recently, Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), announced that the FCC will roll-back the Obama-era net neutrality rules requiring Internet service providers (ISP’s) to treat all web traffic equally. I am writing today to state that the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, strongly and unequivocally, opposes this decision; and I ask for your support in making sure that Congress takes the steps necessary to reinstate the Obama-era net neutrality rules, and do so in a way that makes them national law.

The 100 Black Men of the Bay Area has been committed to improving the condition of the African-American community since its inception in 1988. We focus our efforts in the following core “Four for the Future” areas: mentoring, education, health and wellness, and economic empowerment. As we see it, net neutrality impacts all four areas. Equal access to the Internet on the consumer side means that our mentees and their families and communities, many of whom are from economically-disadvantaged environments, are able to have access to the same information as the rest of society; reducing that access, in any way, only serves to exacerbate the education and information gaps that already afflict the African-American community. Correspondingly, equal access to the Internet on the business side means that businesses in the African-American community, many of which are small businesses, have the same access to existing and potential consumers as every other business; reducing that access, in any manner, will only serve to place those African-American businesses in a disadvantaged position. Whether the reduction of the net neutrality protections comes in the form of increased billing amounts to customers from ISP’s or pricing-related access levels for businesses, the results are the same; individuals in our community will have reduced access to information and businesses in our community will have restricted access to customers and business opportunities.

While the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area primarily focuses on issues important to the African-American community, we feel this is a matter of great importance to society, as a whole. Anything that limits access and information in a potentially subjective or financially- based manner hurts the larger society; and anything that hurts the larger society, in almost every scenario, disproportionately hurts the African-American community. Ending net neutrality will not only give rise to potential price increases for Internet access to certain sites, but will also give ISP’s the right to selectively block or slow-down sites, as they see fit; in turn, they will also be able to speed-up certain sites (possibly, those paying a higher fee), which will hurt many small businesses. We trust that you feel as strongly about this as we do; we ask that you take the decisive steps required to protect our community. Thank you and please feel free to reach out to me directly with anything else we can do to help.

Sincerely,

Muhammad A. Nadhiri
Chairman of the Board

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