Voter Guide To Where 2020 Candidates Stand on Media and Tech Policy

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Free Press Action released its 2020 Right to Connect Voter Guide, an analysis of presidential candidates’ positions on vital media and technology policies. It analyzes the positions of nine Democratic and Republican presidential candidates polling at 3 percent or above in recent national polls. Sens Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stand out for their proposals to invest billions to expand internet access and rein in steep broadband prices that keep low-income families and people of color offline. Sen Sanders has also offered the most concrete ideas to address the crisis in journalism.

Affordability: The price of broadband is too damn high for many people across the country. Among the Democratic candidates, Sen Sanders’ and Sen Warren’s proposals would do the most to address this crucial issue, and Warren highlights how race factors in the digital divide. Former Vice President Joe Biden, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen Klobuchar have also put forward strong proposals in support of digital equity, albeit with fewer details. And Biden, Sanders and Warren have all taken stands against extortionary prison-phone rates.

Reliable networks: As climate-related disasters worsen, the next president needs to focus on building resilient networks and protecting the communications needs of vulnerable communities. That should start with addressing the government’s neglect of Puerto Rico in the wake of destructive hurricanes and earthquakes. Sen Sanders has taken the strongest stance here, explicitly calling for “a full review of the post-disaster response to the communications crisis in Puerto Rico [to] ensure broadband and telecommunications services are swiftly restored.” His proposal includes plans to invest in equitable and resilient communications networks. Biden, Buttigieg and Warren have rightly focused on recovery in Puerto Rico. The other candidates haven’t said much

Net Neutrality: All of the leading Democratic candidates but two — Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg — have strongly and publicly endorsed Net Neutrality on the campaign trail. While Biden served as vice president under the Obama administration — whose Federal Communications Commission passed the strong 2015 Net Neutrality rules that the Trump administration gutted — he has thus far made no public statements about this issue. (However, he has held fundraisers with Comcast executives.)

[Craig Aaron is president and co-CEO of Free Press Action. Dana Floberg is a policy manager for Free Press Action.]

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