NDIA Submits Comments to FCC on ‘Digital Discrimination’ Definition and Rules
One aspect of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021 that isn’t discussed as much as the digital equity and broadband money is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) formalized definition of “digital discrimination.” The FCC is set to create rules to prevent and penalize digital discrimination and promote equal access to broadband across the country, regardless of income level, ethnicity, race, religion, or national origin. The IIJA requires the FCC to create and adopt these rules by November 2023.
The FCC kickstarted the rulemaking process on March 17, 2022 when they released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comment on how to implement the digital discrimination section (Section 60506) of the Infrastructure Act. Comments were due yesterday, May 16, 2022. The FCC will accept replies to the comments submitted yesterday until June 30, 2022 and later will release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at which they’ll request more comments from the public on how the rules should be constructed and implemented.
NDIA submitted comments urging the Commission to:
- Recognize that digital discrimination can occur regardless of whether discriminatory intent is involved. Digital discrimination is not a problem of intent. It is a problem of drastically unequal digital opportunities and outcomes.
- Understand that digital discrimination involves more than just discriminatory broadband deployment but also discrimination in broadband adoption, broadband affordability, and the actual use of broadband.
- Elevate the transparency of existing data and collect additional data that can be used to identify and measure digital discrimination.
- Establish a dedicated and transparent complaint process through which the public can lodge complaints related to digital discrimination and unequal access to broadband— where the responses from ISPs are made publicly available.
As the rulemaking process progresses, we’ll continue to update our community.