National Religious Broadcasters applauded the Federal Communications Commission's "Restoring Internet Freedom" vote today rolling back the agency's assumption of heavy-handed new powers over the internet in 2015.
Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, said, "I congratulate the FCC for resisting alarmism and moving to reverse the agency's unilateral assumption of power in 2015. I particularly applaud Chairman Ajit Pai for his fairness, transparency and firm commitment to an online environment that honors freedom and welcomes innovation. While others have yielded to the intimidation games of the radical left, Chairman Pai has stood courageously as a statesman."
Johnson added, "While the previous administration's executive power play is not the answer, there are indeed valid concerns about blocking and other forms of discrimination online. Now that the FCC has appropriately reversed course, I urge the people's representatives in Congress to take a closer look at issues like viewpoint censorship by holding hearings that survey the practices of powerful players across the entire internet ecosystem, including seemingly ubiquitous edge provider platforms."
Last week at the National Press Club, Johnson announced the launch of NRB's new initiative, Internet Freedom Watch, to highlight online censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoint. During the event, at which Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, PragerU representative Craig Strazzeri, and evangelical leader Ralph Reed spoke, Johnson called on Congress to hold hearings "very soon" about the "severe problem of viewpoint censorship on the internet."
At the time of the partisan 2015 FCC vote to assert Title II internet authority, the NRB Board of Directors, a body of approximately a hundred key leaders among Christian communicators, unanimously approved a resolution opposed to such a move. The NRB Board was particularly concerned that free speech values be upheld online and that the Title II Order would "send a poor signal to nations that have or are considering more state governance of the internet." In previous filings with the FCC, NRB has suggested that if the commission feels it needs more internet powers, it should seek congressional authorization.
Also in its filings, while emphasizing caution about new regulatory regimes and the value of free enterprise, NRB highlighted that incidents of censorship of religious and ideologically conservative viewpoints by some major edge providers are a problem, and suggested, "Any regulation of broadband providers requires a broad picture that includes an evaluation of the policies and practices of edge providers in order to protect the free speech interests of citizen users." With the launch of Internet Freedom Watch, NRB is pushing for more scrutiny from the tech community and Congress on just such viewpoint censorship problems in hopes of finding freedom-honoring answers.
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