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Greenlining tells FCC: Don’t force low-income consumers to the ‘Back of the Digital Bus’

yes-we-code-kids-who-code-cGreenlining tells FCC: Don’t force low-income consumers to the ‘Back of the Digital Bus’

Advocates urge regulators to reject watered-down industry proposals

11-year-old Nuh Mahamud works on a computer at the Bridge Project, which provides educational opportunities for children living in public housing neighborhoods, in the South Lincoln area of Denver on Jan. 23, 2012. Yes We Code plans to partner with such existing organizations to focus specifically on preparing kids for careers writing computer code. Cyrus McCrimmon—Denver Post/Getty Images

By  Bruce Mirken

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The  Greenlining Institute recently filed its formal reply urging the Federal Communications Commission to reject proposals from telecommunications providers suggesting that the FCC issue watered-down (or no) rules regarding net neutrality. Such proposals, Greenlining argued, “could force low-income consumers and consumers from communities of color to the back of the digital bus.”

In initial comments filed in July, Greenlining and many other consumer groups urged strong rules to preserve the free, open Internet Americans have long known, barring providers from providing online fast lanes for companies with lots of money or favored content and slow lanes for everyone else. Major industry players responded with proposals for what Green-lining termed “minimal standards and no consequences for noncompliance,” adding, “This framework would not only permit providers to discriminate against low-income customers and customers from communities of color, but would actually incentivize those providers to do so.”

Greenlining’s comments objected to proposals from Comcast, Verizon and AT&T that any rules establishing a mini-mum level of service merely require that companies make their “best efforts” to comply, a standard Greenlining termed “nebulous” and “nearly impossible to monitor.”

The Institute also criticized Comcast’s proposal to exempt its “Internet Essentials” service from any such standards. Com-cast has touted Internet Essentials, a low-cost Internet access program, as an example of why it should be allowed to acquire Time Warner Cable, but Greenlining argued that what Comcast actually proposes is “a second-class Internet for low-income consumers, many of whom are from communities of color.”

The Greenlining Institute is a Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute


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