Countless Americans woke up today with no cellular service, and many are left wondering what caused this to happen. Below, one of our faculty experts offers insights into the situation. If you’d like to schedule an interview with him, please…
Bringing Light to ‘Digital Dark Spots’: Expert Calls for Government Action
The FCC recently adopted new rules that prohibit “digital discrimination,” a term for policies or practices that limit broadband access based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion, or national origin. The rules will allow the commission to investigate complaints and penalize companies for violations.
Danielle Taana Smith is a Syracuse University professor whose area of research includes social justice and digital inequities. She says government intervention is needed to ensure access for all citizens.
“Internet access and use are integrated with all facets of life in the 21st century. This is especially true in the post-pandemic world. Education and employment spaces are no longer confined to physical structures, but rather, people now learn and work in diverse settings that require Internet connectivity. As such, depriving a person or community from digital connectivity means that children will not meet their full potential through educational attainment processes, and that adults will lack a full range of meaningful employment and of opportunities to improve their living conditions.
Governmental intervention is necessary to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to build a decent life…We cannot tolerate digital dark spots in our communities.
In addition, in a civic and democratic nation, citizens engage with government and their fellow citizens through diverse interactions that require Internet connectivity. The Internet has flattened our planet. As global citizens, we interact transnationally, and not solely with people within our national borders. Issues such as climate, outbreaks of diseases, and political conflict, which affect people in seemingly remote places of the world, are no longer confined to where they live. There is growing solidarity among people whose interests align and who advocate for similar objectives. Using the Internet, the young and old around the world collaborate on shared values, hopes and aspirations, and form networks that support their goals.
Governmental intervention is necessary to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to build a decent life. Unequal distribution of digital resources is an attempt to deprive an individual or group of their basic rights and impedes them from flourishing. We cannot tolerate digital dark spots in our communities. We are seeing the maturation of a civically engaged global generation that will not tolerate existing inequities and corresponding forms of exclusion. People around the world continue to engage in rigorous public debate and to demand change. Netizens who protest in public spaces in Tehran, Cairo, Minneapolis and DC are part of a broader phenomenon that seeks to enhance civil dialogue. This social awakening is gaining momentum and is an attribute of digital bridging, which is good for society and for the earth.
Good governance mandates that government facilitate and regulate the mechanisms of Internet access, from which public discussions unfold. Government should ensure that its citizens participate in this global forum and in the digitalized economy, through access to the Internet. Digital equity cannot be left to the invisible hand of the marketplace. It is counter-intuitive to think otherwise.”
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