Civic Engagement

Cuban Protests Were Powered by the Internet. The State Then Pulled the Plug

The wave of spontaneous protests that rocked Cuba on July 11 was propelled by social media and the proliferation of mobile internet, which Cubans have only had for the past three years. The government responded by leaving the island virtually incommunicado for two days. To contain the spread of mass demonstrations, authorities cut internet service, along with the fixed phone lines of some activists in the island.

Areas with internet ‘black holes’ renew fight for broadband

For decades, policymakers in Washington and state capitals have fretted about the patchwork of broadband access in the United States, which has held back economic development in underserved areas and became a major problem during the pandemic. Now, after years of federal subsidies that have improved but not solved the problem, the Biden administration is proposing to spend $100 billion over the next eight years to finally connect every American household to high-speed internet. But solving the problem isn’t just a matter of cutting a big check to fund the installation of fiber pipelines.

End Comment Fraud at the Cost of a Stamp

The New York Attorney General’s office found that of more than 22 million comments filed in response to the Federal Communication Commission’s hotly contested 2017 “net neutrality” repeal, nearly 18 million were fraudulent. A 19-year-old computer science student filed nearly eight million of them using automated software. According to the Administrative Procedure Act, federal agencies like the FCC must give notice to the public when they propose to write new rules. Then the public can comment on those proposals.

Fake Comments: How US Companies & Partisans Hack Democracy to Undermine Your Voice

This report is the product of an extensive investigation by the New York Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of the parties that sought to influence the Federal Communications Commission’s 2017 proceeding to repeal the agency’s net neutrality rules. In the course of that investigation, the OAG obtained and analyzed tens of thousands of internal emails, planning documents, bank records, invoices, and data comprising hundreds of millions of records. Our investigation confirmed many contemporaneous reports of fraud that dogged that rulemaking process.

The National Urban League's Approach to Digital Equity

On March 31, the National Urban League released the Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity and Inclusion, a collaborative work aimed at addressing the digital divide. If you have the time, follow the link above and give the full report a read. If not, here's the executive summary.

FCC Reaches Out to Collect Consumer Broadband Availability Experiences

The Federal Communications Commission announced it will begin collecting first-hand accounts on broadband availability and service quality directly from consumers as part of its Broadband Data Collection program. A new webpage, www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData, explains the FCC’s program and provides direct links to consumer resources including a new “share your broadband experience” option.

U.S. Press Freedom in Crisis: Journalists Under Arrest in 2020

Freedom of the Press Foundation's newest report shows that there have been at least 117 verified cases of a journalist being arrested or detained on the job in the US in 2020. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is also still investigating more than a dozen additional reports of arrests or detentions. Arrests of journalists skyrocketed by more than 1200% in comparison to 2019. In just one week, from May 29 - June 4, more reporters were arrested in the U.S. than in the previous three years combined. Arrests occurred in more than two dozen cities across the country.

Increasing Public Engagement and Transparency at the FCC by Holding a Second Monthly Meeting

This proposal outlines a series of actions to introduce a second monthly meeting of the five commissioners who comprise the Federal Communications Commission. During the additional meeting, FCC staff should present on major items that might be brought before the Commission for a vote in the next several months. This forward-looking monthly meeting gives the public information needed to provide meaningful input to the Commission prior to its decision-making. The meeting would also improve the Commissioners’ own ability to respond to policy recommendations.

A Democracy Without Broadband

Access to affordable broadband is crucial for a functioning 21st century democracy. As technology advances, many of our basic democratic values depend on robust connectivity. Broadband enhances civic engagement, participation in the democratic process, and a responsive government.

Census 2020 Exposes Deep Digital Divide and Reinforces Need for Paper Options

Popular narratives about the digital divide that separates our nation are too often anchored narrowly on the mere availability of broadband in a community. And now, emerging narratives about Census 2020 self-reporting issues routinely fail to look beyond the pandemic disruptions. Physical paper Census forms had been the traditional means of survey and reply, and the expectation for generations of respondents. But the Census Bureau made the calculation this year that 78.2% of households should want to, would be able to — and simply would just jump online to self-report crucial information.