Faith coalition applauds net neutrality ruling, offers webinar
Written by Gregg Brekke
November 16, 2011

Advocating to maintain principles of equal access to Internet resources and bandwidth, the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc. (UCC OC Inc.) and the World Association for Christian Communication, North America (WACC North America) are offering a free Dec. 6 webinar to inform faith communities' use of new technologies and the importance of net neutrality.

Sponsored jointly by the two organizations, the webinar follows the recent decision of the U.S. Senate to uphold existing net neutrality rules adopted by the FCC at the end of 2010.

"Nonprofits and small businesses should have some comfort that they will not be asked to pay to ensure that their content will get equal billing on the Internet," said Cheryl Leanza, UCC OC Inc. policy advisor, at the passage of the 2010 legislation. "We hope that any abuses in the future will be quickly and firmly shut down by the FCC as promised."

However, Leanza warned that the legal framework of the FCC's ruling and the concessions made to major Internet companies in the ruling.

"This framework will likely endanger the FCC’s power to act quickly next year to expand broadband to all Americans," she warned. "Because the FCC gave way to many of the concerns expressed by Internet companies in adopting this order, we believe that next year's Congress should take a measured approach to its response to this decision."

An ongoing concern for Leanza and a broad-based coalition of interfaith communications advocates is the maintenance of a freely accessible communication vehicle for faith communities. Contrasting the Internet to broadcast radio and television, this coalition maintains the message delivered by "pay only" means minimizes the voice of minority religious and cultural populations.

Earlier in 2011, UCC OC Inc. organized a letter writing and advocacy campaign aimed at preserving the FCC's 2010 net neutrality ruling. The Rev. Jim Antal, member of the UCC OC Inc. board of directors and UCC Conference Minister in Massachusetts, joined his voice with the members of the  National Council of Churches Communication Commission, an interfaith coalition  and the U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops to support an open Internet.

Leanza and Reilly Yeo, Managing Director, Open Media, will speak to these issues and offer a basic understanding of net neutrality's importance to faith communities during the webinar.

The webinar will be held Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, 1-2pm EST. There is no charge for the webinar, but participants will be required to register online prior to the event.

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