EPIC Urges FCC to Offer Wi-Fi Without Surveillance to Students

January 30, 2024

On January 29, EPIC filed reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission supporting the FCC’s proposal to expand its E-Rate program to include Wi-Fi hotspots but urging the Commission not to require surveillance of users’ online activities through those hotspots. The E-Rate program uses discounted pricing to facilitate schools and libraries providing free internet access to their students and patrons. EPIC argued that concerns about use of the hotspots for non-educational purposes should not frustrate the FCC’s goal of making the internet available to students without reliable internet access at home, nor should the FCC introduce new privacy and cybersecurity vulnerabilities that may expose data about students and their families. EPIC further illustrated the harms of prioritizing program integrity over program utilization by citing to several examples of public benefits programs that wrongfully denied eligible people, largely due to automated decision systems.

EPIC regularly files comments with the FCC and has long advocated for consumer privacy protections in broadband services and student privacy in particular.

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