ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The Internet’s future will be debated on Nov. 16 in Albuquerque at a public hearing featuring Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps and community leaders. The hearing coincides with the National Congress of American Indians' Annual Convention and is a valuable opportunity for Native Americans, Latinos and people from all of New Mexico’s diverse communities to share their ideas, experiences and concerns about Internet access and freedom. It's a rare chance for members of the public to participate in this important debate and to make their voices heard.
The public hearing will begiin at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010. The location of the hearing will be the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th Street SW in Albuquerque. The free event is co-hosted by Free Press, the Center for Media Justice and the Media Literacy Project.
This is a critical time in the debate over the future of the Internet in America. Nearly 24 million Americans -- and 50.3 percent of New Mexico households -- lack access to broadband.
“The Internet is an essential tool for participating in society and politics,” said Andrea Quijada, executive director of the Media Literacy Project. “No community should be left behind. American Indians and Latinos, especially those who live in rural areas, need the Internet to advocate for themselves, access government services and get important educational and health information. The Internet means opportunity, and we can’t deny opportunity to people because they can’t afford the Internet or don’t have access to it.”
Not only do communities need affordable broadband service, but they need to be able to choose where they go and what they see on the Web without interference from online gatekeepers.
“The location and timing could not be more perfect for this public hearing,” said amalia deloney, grassroots policy director for the Center for Media Justice. “We've heard from many Native and Latino communities about the challenges they face with access, and the vital role an open Internet plays in their lives. Holding this meeting during NCAI's annual conference ensures that these voices can be part of the conversation and that the FCC hears from community members, not just corporate lobbyists.”
The FCC is currently crafting the rules and regulations that will shape the future of the Internet. Phone and cable companies are flooding Washington with money and lobbyists, but the general public has been largely excluded from the debate.
“Decisions are being made inside the Beltway that affect people outside it, in the real world, and it is crucial that the FCC hears from people about the importance of protecting the open Internet,” said Misty Perez Truedson of Free Press. “As more and more people are getting online, we need the FCC to make sure that everyone has access to the same open Internet.”