(BALTIMORE, MD, 3/2/18) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced that it delivered testimony in support of SB 0287 State Funds – Procurement of Services from Internet Service Providers – Restriction, introduced in the Maryland state legislature.
The bill, sponsored by Maryland State Senator Roger Manno, will prohibit the state from contracting or engaging in business with internet service providers who have adopted unconstitutional practices that do not comply with net neutrality principles that preserve free and open internet.
CAIR’s testimony reads in part:
“The internet is a vital part of many aspects of everyday life for countless Marylanders. CAIR believes that non-selective, equally affordable, non-discriminatory Internet access is vital to the effective exercise of the First Amendment free speech rights that our organization protects.
“As such, we naturally support policies and legislation such as SB 0287 that protect net neutrality and promote the principle that Internet service providers (ISP’s) should impartially enable access to web content and applications regardless of their source, without selectively favoring or blocking some sites and services.
“Senate Bill 0287 is critical to restoring net neutrality within the State of Maryland. This is especially important as the internet should remain free from big ISP’s and special interest groups who would otherwise benefit from transforming it into a “toll road” where consumers are potentially charged more while big corporations and such entities stand to profit.”
“A free and open internet protects freedom of speech and is essential to providing fair, equitable access to information,” said CAIR’s Maryland representative Zainab Chaudry. “Big corporations acting as gatekeepers controlling the public’s access to content on the web risks discriminatory pricing practices, compromises First Amendment rights, and stifles growth and innovation. CAIR thanks the Education, Health, & Environmental Affairs Committee for the opportunity to deliver testimony on this important bill, and we respectfully urge a favorable report.”
Chaudry noted in CAIR’s testimony that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is among twenty-three attorneys general who have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in February asserting that the FCC’s unpopular repeal of net neutrality rules in unconstitutional and in violation of federal law.
The FCC’s net neutrality repeal is scheduled to take effect in April 2018 unless Congress takes action. In May 2017, CAIR’s New York chapter filed a comment with the FCC arguing that the Commission retain strong protections for net neutrality and internet freedom.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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