EPIC Joins Public Knowledge in Urging FCC to Combat Digital Discrimination

March 1, 2023

Last week, EPIC joined Public Knowledge’s comments supporting the Federal Communications Commission addressing digital discrimination in access to communications services. The comments argue that the Communications Act of 1934 (the statute creating the Federal Communications Commission) and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 provide the framework for the FCC’s authority to combat digital discrimination.

The comments outline the history of Congressional action attempting to ensure all Americans benefit from a national communications network, to remedy chronic underinvestment in low-income and insular communities, and to regulate the market which—left to its own profit-seeking incentives—would discontinue service to areas with low rates of return. The comments also urge the Commission to impose presumptions of economic and technical feasibility, rather than to create safe harbors that would only perpetuate inequitable deployment of broadband. The comments urge the FCC to consider not merely specific discriminatory intent but also disparate impact as it evaluates digital discrimination, and to focus on how its programs can help ensure equal access to broadband, especially in Tribal areas. The comments conclude by recommending enforcement mechanisms the FCC should use to ensure access to broadband for all Americans.

EPIC has long advocated for consumer privacy protections in broadband services, including combating disparate treatment for economically disadvantaged Americans, and regularly files comments with the FCC.

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