Breaking awesome news: 24 percent of Verizon shareholders have voted in support of a proposal asking Verizon to report on “business risks” stemming from the company’s lawsuit to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from enforcing polices to keep the internet open and accessible to all.
This is a huge deal. A company that is actively trying to thwart basic rules of the road that would preserve an online level playing field is being criticized by its stakeholders for inviting “serious legal, regulatory, reputational and financial risks” to Verizon while potentially compromising what makes the internet such a powerful platform for creative expression, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Why should you care? Because musicians need to be able to compete on a level playing field online. Without basic rules for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), we could see a world where independent artists and other entrepreneurs could have their content slowed down — or worse, blocked outright — based on an ISP’s business or political preferences.
Arjuna Capital Chief Strategist and FMC Board member Farnum Brown worked with Open MIC and the Nathan Cummings Foundation to file the proposal alongside Trillium Asset Management. Farnum and co. been working on this for a while, and from a few different angles: back in February 2012, Trillium and several AT&T investors — including Mike D of the Beastie Boys, his filmmaker wife, Tamra Davis, and John Silva of Silva Artist Management — helped persuade the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to rule that telecommunications companies could no longer exclude proposals about net neutrality from shareholder proxy votes.
While we can’t say for sure when Verizon’s controversial case against the FCC will be settled in the courts, we are certain that this sends a clear message to the company from its own investors: the internet is not something you get to mess in pursuit of increased profits. Kudos to Farnum and everyone involved for keeping up the good fight.