In the fall and winter of 2020, New America embarked on a snapshot study to gather data on how—or if—people were discovering, accessing, and using their public libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on materials that libraries made available online. Our findings, which include data from a national survey of 2,620 people, highlight the need for more inclusivity, more focus on providing internet access, and more awareness-raising initiatives with local organizations and schools.
New America's Open Technology Institute urged the Federal Communications Commission to quickly and successfully implement the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a new subsidy to help low-income people pay for broadband service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide $50 per month to qualifying low-income households and $75 in Tribal areas. OTI’s comments made the following recommendations:
How to Revive the FCC’s Lifeline Program: A Blueprint to Build Back Better After Four Years of Neglect and Regulatory War
For the past four years, the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program has been dogged by neglectful leadership and repeated attacks from the commission under Chairman Ajit Pai. As the COVID19 pandemic and a persistent digital divide exacerbate income, racial, and geographic inequities, this program has been stifled at a crucial time. In this paper, we review the myriad attacks that Lifeline has endured during the Trump Administration—and build a blueprint for a better path forward.
Tribes are some of the least connected communities in the United States. The lack of broadband availability is especially acute on tribal lands, where the American Indian Policy Institute found that only 49 percent of residents have fixed home internet service. Recent testimony by the president of the Navajo Nation confirms that this figure is even worse in the Navajo Nation, where over half of Navajo chapters lack any broadband access.
New America’s Open Technology Institute recently published The Cost of Connectivity 2020, a new study showing that the cost of broadband service is higher in the United States than in Asia or Europe—and that US consumers are in the grips of a broadband affordability crisis. This research is consistent with our past submissions to the Commission regarding the dismal state of competition in the broadband marketplace, which has all the hallmarks of an oligopoly.
Consumers in the US pay more on average for monthly internet service than consumers abroad—especially for higher speed tiers. This report examines 760 plans in 28 cities across Asia, Europe, and North America, with an emphasis on the US. Key Findings:
With at least 20 million people across the United States lacking broadband service, community and tribal broadband networks offer a much-needed opportunity to expand and improve internet access across the country. These networks, which include municipal or public option networks, today serve more than 900 communities nationwide.
The Federal Trade Commission’s $5 billion settlement with Facebook over the company’s deceptive privacy practices made a big splash, raising questions about the role the FTC should play in enforcing US privacy laws. While some observers criticized the FTC for not going far enough, others felt the record fine demonstrated the FTC’s willingness to set new precedents for punitive actions—and its unique ability to serve as the cop on the beat. But that isn’t the end of the conversation.
In our increasingly digitized world, it is critical to protect individuals’ privacy. As policymakers consider passing meaningful privacy legislation, civil rights protections are a critical but mostly overlooked component. To have effective privacy legislation, we must ensure that companies’ data practices do not violate individuals’ civil rights—especially when it comes to marginalized communities.