Leadership of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce have come out against net neutrality regulation, arguing it could limit access and opportunity for minority-owned small businesses.
“We believe incentives, not regulations, are needed to stimulate private investment for the expansion of broadband networks,” said Javier Palomarez, president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, adding that the Federal Communications Commission should instead focus on increasing access in underserved communities and working to educate the public on the benefits of Internet access.
Unlike many of the other groups that have submitted comments to the FCC, these organizations focused on the need to ensure broadband access is available to support small businesses. Justin Nelson, president of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said the Internet also helps increase the development of green jobs which will be critical to economic recovery and growth.
“We want to Leverage private capitol with local entrepreneurship,” said Harry Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. “Broadband takes the mom and pop and turns it into a small business, then into a medium sized business, hiring people and providing salaries and benefits along the way.”
All three groups also said the pace of innovation is a major reason to stay away from regulation; what is put on the books could be quickly outdated by emerging technologies. Alford cited changes in communications technology in the years between Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Haitian earthquake in 2010. Between then and now there are so many new ways to communicate and get information from the ground during an event–thanks to the Internet when phones disappear there are still several other ways to communicate. Alford also stated that a regulated Internet could have severely affected the way people were able to communicate during the Haiti disaster.
“Burdensome regulation on a segment of industry that has not shown a need for regulation is a slippery slope,” said Nelson. “We’re not really sure whats out there, so why fix what’s not broken? As we increasingly become a global economy and we’re looking to small businesses to help innovate and help us to grow out of our current economic situation, the quicker the easier we can make deployment of broadband a part of our every day lives the better off that we’ll be.”
All three groups also said that funding from telecommunications or technology companies was not a motivation for their stance against net neutrality regulations.