Protecting Internet Freedom Will Close the Digital Divide. Period. End of Story.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski took questions about the recently-released National Broadband Plan (NBP) on YouTube Monday. One question posed to the chairman was about whether the plan would close the digital divide and be beneficial to low-income communities and people of color anxious to get online.

Chairman Genachowski’s response was absolutely right that this plan, along with the FCC’s other efforts to promote universal broadband Internet access and protect Internet freedom, will benefit everyone, especially those excluded from today’s market.

Watch his response:

One of the primary arguments made by the Digital Divide Astroturf Squad (Internet Innovation Alliance, Broadband Opportunity Coalition, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, etc.) is that curbing companies’ ability to discriminate against people online will hurt innovation and make them less likely to expand access to their services. The tragic flaw in this argument is that if these companies could be trusted, there would be no digital divide.

The problem of the digital divide, once a matter of mere digital ignorance, is fast becoming one of digital access and representation. We have greedy, discriminating telecom interests to thank for this evolution. People know that a digital and connected future exists; they can’t realize it because they are priced or mapped out of the market.

The National Broadband Plan and rules that explicitly protect the rights of consumers online are steps toward solving the problems of digital access and representation. With full and equal access to this platform, entrepreneurs can create venture after venture with the assurance that their commitment and the quality of their ideas will determine their success, not back room deals between their competitors and ISPs that tilt the scale against them. With full and equal access to this platform, young people of color can participate in the revolutionary acts of self-expression and self-definition without fear that their voices and images will be stamped out by forces seeking to make them invisible. This is what closing the digital divide is all about.

Equality and opportunity are core democratic and American values. These values are important in the digital world of tomorrow as they were in the analog world of yesterday. Let’s protect and live up to them.

One Love. One II.

This post originally appeared on the Save The Internet blog.

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

2 responses to “Protecting Internet Freedom Will Close the Digital Divide. Period. End of Story.”

  1. cbakerjoba says :

    I have been following this topic closely over the past year. It is in everyone’s best interest to keep the internet as open as possible. If not, we will definitely see a privatized web model…It chills me to even think about that.

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