Leading digital rights group Fight for the Future has launched a campaign calling on CNN to ask presidential candidates where they stand on restoring net neutrality.
CNN is hosting the democratic primary debates tonight and tomorrow, and Fight for the Future is pressuring the cable news channel to pose a question on net neutrality to the debaters. Fight for the Future has called attention to CNN’s conflict of interest through its ownership by AT&T, one of the largest telecom companies in the world. AT&T has spent millions aggressively lobbying to gut net neutrality and broadband privacy protections.
Net neutrality receives overwhelming bipartisan support among Americans. Over 86 percent of Americans opposed the 2017 repeal of net neutrality under Ajit Pai’s FCC, including 90 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans. The FCC repeal sparked unprecedented levels of backlash and was easily one of the most talked about policy changes of the last decade. It’s absurd that no one has asked the 2020 candidates where they stand on restoring net neutrality.
"Nearly every candidate running for the Democratic nomination has taken big campaign contributions from companies like AT&T. We can’t just assume they will do the right thing. Americans deserve to know whether these candidates will make it a top priority to restore net neutrality," said Evan Greer, deputy director at Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her), "The fact that AT&T owns CNN, and could easily pressure them to silence debate on net neutrality, is a perfect example of why we need a free and open Internet. It’s essential for free speech and a democratic society. Net neutrality is clearly one of the most talked about issues of the last decade. If no one at CNN asks the candidates about it, we’ll know why. "
NBC, a subsidiary of Comcast, hosted the previous democratic primary debates in June, which did not include any discussion of net neutrality. Giant Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast have lavished money on lobbying and misinformation campaigns to kill net neutrality, from astroturfing to massive ad and PR campaigns, and it is unclear to what extent they have ordered their media subsidiaries to avoid any mention of net neutrality, though a 2017 study showed that the major networks had largely ignored the issue, even while other press covered it extensively.