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Worried about net neutrality? So are the bishops


This picture shows the Pope Francis Twitter handle @pontifex, taken on March 15, 2013 in Paris. Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis during a conclave, becoming the first Latin American pontiff in an astonishing decision seen as a signal of greater openness for a troubled Roman Catholic Church. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 11/29/17

"Non-profit communities, both religious and secular, cannot afford to pay to compete with profitable commercialized content."

After the Federal Communications Commission revealed last week that it has plans to repeal what’s known as “net neutrality” regulations, a slew of protesting voices said that the result of this move would be the very opposite of the purported aim of deregulating the internet and favoring an open market system.

Today, with a statement, the US bishops voiced their own concerns.

Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, chairman of the bishops’ Communications Committee, said that the faith community is among those who rely on net neutrality.

“Strong net neutrality protections are critical to the faith community to function and connect with our members, essential to protect and enhance the ability of vulnerable communities to use advanced technology, and necessary for any organization that seeks to organize, advocate for justice or bear witness in the crowded and over-commercialized media environment,” he said.

Most people protesting a repeal of net neutrality regulations agree that big, rich businesses will have an advantage over start-ups, non-profits, or other budget-strapped entities, which would of course include churches and other faith-based service organizations.

Bishop Coyne said as much, affirming, “Robust internet protections are vital to enable our Archdioceses, Dioceses, and Eparchies, our parishes, schools and other institutions to communicate with each other and our members, to share religious and spiritual teachings, to promote activities online, and to engage people – particularly younger persons – in our ministries.”

He noted his worry that an absence of “open internet principles which prohibit paid prioritization” could force churches and others to “pay fees to ensure that our high-bandwidth content receives fair treatment on the internet.”

“Non-profit communities, both religious and secular, cannot afford to pay to compete with profitable commercialized content,” the bishop declared.

The commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, is an Obama appointee who was made chairman of the commission by Donald Trump this January.

Pai says that his proposal will mean “the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet.”

The Commission is expected to approve Pai’s plan at a meeting Dec. 14, but many online petitioners are requesting a reconsideration.

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