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Broadband Roundup: Global Internet Censorship, Tribal Divide, Klobuchar on the Broadband Stump

David Jelke



Photograph of Sen. Amy Klobuchar in April 2019 by Gage Skidmore used with permission

A report published by on Wednesday ranks and categorizes the countries with the highest internet censorship. Among the reports most salient findings:

  • Turkmenistan, North Korea, and China earned the top three spots, in decreasing order of censorship.
  • Many popular vacation destinations like Vietnam, Turkey, Cuba, and Singapore made the top 25.
  • China jailed 57 journalists last year and has only tightened controls since the coronavirus outbreak.

The data were ranked based the content that citizens can access, the illegality of privacy tools such as virtual private networks, as well as monitoring policies and limitations on freedom of expression.

Turkmenistan was perhaps a surprising top pick for this list, if only for its absence from most world news. Yet it earned its spot at the top for several reasons.

Turkmentelecom, which is government-controlled, is the only internet provider in the country. It has used this chokehold to block access to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Politically motivated “disappearances” of online publishers are common.

Sens. Udall, Cantwell and Heinrich introduce Tribal Digital Divide Act

Senators Tom Udall, D-N.M., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., introduced the Tribal Digital Divide Act of 2020 on Tuesday to accelerate the deployment of broadband services to Native American communities.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, less than half of households on tribal lands have access to fixed broadband service. This bill attempts to address that by implementing the following:

  • Establish the Tribal Broadband Interagency Working Group to improve coordination across federal broadband programs and reduce deployment barriers;
  • Require that technical assistance be provided to interested, underserved Native communities to develop a broadband deployment plan;
  • Streamline the application process for federal grants to support the deployment of broadband services on Tribal lands;
  • Establish a Tribal Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee;
  • Sets aside FCC and Agriculture Department funds for the benefit of broadband deployment on Tribal lands; and
  • Establish the Tribal Broadband Right-of-Way Pilot Program.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, on the campaign stump, talks up expanding broadband service

Presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar expressed some ideas on how to expand broadband access at the Moving America Forward forum in Las Vegas this Sunday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“There are always ways,” some of which include “creating incentives” that would penalize the states for not being more accepting of government-driven public-owned broadband. She also suggested “preemption.”

A precursor to either of these methods, however, is the collection of a new and accurate broadband map, as “a whole bunch of money is going where it shouldn’t.” Klobuchar related how northern communities in her state of Minnesota which can “see Canada from [its] porch” have flocked to resorts across the border because of superior broadband.

Some have even switched to Canadian broadband, she mentioned.


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