Looking ahead: Will Universal Service Fund reform finally happen?

The Universal Service Fund (USF) – which financially supports several of the Federal Communications Commission's high-cost and low-income broadband programs, at roughly $8 billion annually – has been going through a tough time. This past year saw the USF dragged before federal court in cases brought by a conservative public interest group questioning the fund's legality. The Fifth and Sixth Circuit courts initially ruled against the petitioners, but the Fifth Circuit then agreed to hear the case en banc in September and has yet to rule.

Working Towards Digital Equity in DC

Growth, equity, education, workforce opportunities, access to government services, and sustainability. Each of these values—and many of the actions that can be taken to achieve them—can be enhanced by equitable access to high-speed internet, and a population equipped with the digital skills to productively use computers and the internet.

ALA to Launch New Digital Inclusion Working Group for Library Workers

The American Library Association (ALA) Public Policy and Advocacy Office and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced a new Digital Inclusion Working Group for library workers to exchange knowledge around digital equity work taking place in all library contexts. The working group will meet monthly, facilitated by PPA staff members Megan Janicki and Emily Durkin.

Oregon's Plan for Meaningful Broadband Access

The Oregon Broadband Office (OBO) released the state's draft Digital Equity Plan for public comment.

FCC Announces Over $450,000 in Emergency Connectivity Funding

The Federal Communications Commission committed over $450,000 in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, which provides digital tools and services to support students in communities across the country. This funding commitment supports applications from the third application window, connecting approximately 1,000 students. Launched in 2021, the Emergency Connectivity Program has provided schools and libraries three different “application windows” to apply for support.

Department of the Treasury Announces New Federal Funds to Help Close the Digital Divide in Wisconsin

The Department of the Treasury announced the approval of $140 million in federal funds for Wi-Fi and computers and improving multi-purpose community facilities in Wisconsin under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF). Wisconsin’s awards include two funding streams: $33 million for digital connectivity technology projects, and $107 million for multi-purpose community facility projects.

Patron Privacy Protections in Public Libraries

Public libraries are an invaluable institution in the United States, and the digital revolution has posed many challenges for them. With the American Library Association’s updated “Library Bill of Rights” and public library services increasingly moving online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the protection of patron privacy in public libraries is an important and timely topic of study.

Digital Public Library Ecosystem 2023

The Digital Public Library Ecosystem is the network of digital book collection and circulation specifically through public libraries. Three factors contribute to current confusion about the digital public library ecosystem. One, essential terms like reading, library use, circulation, and holds have been inconsistently defined across the industry and in other reports. Two, the digital public library ecosystem is complex, and different elements of the ecosystem do not necessarily work or communicate with each other directly.

In a New York State of Digital Equity

In November 2023, the Empire State Development’s ConnectALL Office released the draft New York State Digital Equity Plan and sought public comment on how New York will bridge the digital divide in the state.

Inside America’s School Internet Censorship Machine

Thanks in large part to a two-decade-old federal law, school districts across the US restrict what students see online using a patchwork of commercial web filters that block vast and often random swathes of the internet. Companies like GoGuardian and Blocksi govern students’ internet use in thousands of US school districts.