Public interest commenters, including public safety officials, overwhelmingly agreed with Free Press’s assessment that the Federal Communications Commission’s misguided repeal of Net Neutrality and its authority over broadband internet access service (“BIAS”) harms the Lifeline program, pole attachment regulation, and public safety. These commenters also overwhelmingly agreed that the best remedy for such harms would be for the Commission to once again correctly classify broadband as a Title II service protected by strong open internet rules.
Members of Congress, Digital-Rights and Social-Justice Advocates Call for COVID-19 Legislation to Support Phone and Internet Access for All
Access Now, Common Sense Media, Consumer Reports, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, Libraries Without Borders, MediaJustice, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge jointly delivered more than 110,000 petition signatures to the Congress.
Free Press condemned the Federal Communications Commission’s abandonment of its authority to safeguard internet users and promote universal access to an open and affordable internet. The filing was in response to an Oct 2019 US Court of Appeals decision to remand for further consideration by the FCC three key issues related to the agency’s 2017 network neutrality repeal, which also rolled back other vital protections under Title II of the Communications Act.
830 Groups Urge Congress to Halt Broadband, Electricity and Water Shutoffs in Next COVID-19 Relief Bill
830 utility-justice, environmental, faith, digital-rights and civil-rights groups sent a letter to Congress calling for the next congressional COVID-19 relief package to include a moratorium on broadband, electricity and water shutoff. The letter also calls for stimulus funds to address the systemic issues that lead to shutoffs. These issues include racial and economic inequities that can be addressed with improved affordable broadband programs including Lifeline; distributed solar energy; and percentage-of-income water-affordability initiatives.
Groups Call on Congress to Fund Journalism and Treat Local News as Essential Service during Pandemic
A coalition of more than 45 organizations and scholars has called on Congress to include vital funding for local news in the next coronavirus stimulus package. Free Press Action, PEN America, Common Cause, and other organizations urged the House and Senate leadership to consider local press an “essential service” vital to the nation’s health, prosperity, and recovery. The organizations ask Congress to allocate at least $5 billion to support local journalism in the next stimulus package.
FCC Commissioner Carr Attacks Free Press for Urging the Agency to Provide Guidance on the Broadcast of False Information
On April 2, Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr responded to a right-wing blogger’s question about a recent Free Press petition urging the agency to help prevent the spread of false COVID-19 information via broadcast outlets. Commissioner Carr said: “This is a sweeping and dangerous attempt by the far left to weaponize the FCC against conservative media outlets and elected officials. They want to turn the FCC into a roving speech police empowered to go after the left’s political opponents."
A call to Congress to allocate up to $100 billion in subsidies, rebates and tax relief targeted toward broadband that would benefit people, not just companies. The money would fund a mix of emergency aid to get and keep people connected during the coming weeks of quarantine and increased reliance on internet access, along with broadband-affordability support for the coming months and years as the economy begins to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
The digital divide means that a digital census raises new problems when it comes to counting correctly. Approximately 22 percent of households nationwide still don’t have home broadband, which means they’ll have a harder time responding to an online census. Even among those who have home broadband, people of color and low-income families are more likely to depend exclusively on mobile internet.