Connect with us

Broadband's Impact

Future of Internet Governance, Freedom of Speech Take Center Stage at Cato Book Panel

WASHINGTON, February 4, 2009 – The 18th century ideas of Thomas Jefferson were thrust into a 21st century debate at the Cato Institute Wednesday during a discussion of David Post’s new book, In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace.

Published

on

Editor’s Note: Don’t miss Andrew Feinberg’s video interview with David Post on BroadbandCensus TV.

WASHINGTON, February 4, 2009 – The 18th century ideas of Thomas Jefferson were thrust into a 21st century debate at the Cato Institute Wednesday during a discussion of David Post’s new book, In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace.

Studying Jefferson’s legacy of “scaling up” the Republic during his presidency — establishing procedures for settlement of new territories and adding new states to the union — can help better understand how to govern the Internet as it grows more and more important in daily life, Post said.

Laws and institutions must adapt to the ever-growing scale of the global network, he said, calling it an “engine for growth and ideas.”

The “undiscovered territory” of the growing Internet is a “powerful theme” in Post’s book, said the Financial Times’ Clive Crook. Crook compared today’s Internet to the unexplored lands of 18th century America, with “no clear notion” of where continued expansion will lead. Regulatory schemes for conventional communications technology is “not applicable,” Post added.

But comparing regulatory schemes for the Internet to older technologies like the telephone does not diminish the significance of the new ones, Crook said. The key issue, he said, will be how far we can extend our traditional ideas regarding free speech to a global network.

Crook offered an example using the different standards for libel in the United States and Great Britain. He asked: “Why should the Internet be held to a different standard than print publications?”

Such free speech issues will be the major problem facing an expanding global network, said George Washington University Law Professor Jeffery Rosen.

Rosen voiced pessimism about the Internet’s potential as a panacea for free speech as more and more content is controlled by international corporations. The people with the most control over online speech today are not governments or network operators, he said. Instead, Rosen suggested the “most powerful person on the Internet” today is Google’s general counsel.

Internet governance in the “age of Google” will most likely come in the form of traditional laws and voluntary regulation by “gatekeepers” in negotiation with different governments, Rosen said. Rosen recently authored a piece in The New York Times magazine on this theme.

Companies like Google want governments to tell them what content to remove instead of having to make those decisions themselves, he said. Such a system would offer less protections than the current way the Internet operates, but Rosen expressed optimism that over the long run, people’s experience with free speech online will lead them to demand more from their governments.

But a more frightening threat to freedom of speech online is the rise of network-level filtering, he added. Such technologies are already being proposed and implemented throughout Europe and North America to root out child pornography.

Rosen warned that many other governments, particularly those in Europe, would have its uses expanded to include other types of content, such as videos which are deemed to support terrorism. Rosen expressed alarm at the possibility of such a regime, which could render the Internet a dramatically different place within the next 10-15 years: “Free speech as we know it would be dramatically curtailed.”

A possible compromise on speech issues can be found in Jefferson’s approach to governing a republic, Post said. By treating each country differently and respecting its laws, companies can protect privacy and still honor local law and custom, he suggested. For example, companies like Google and Yahoo can treat personal search histories differently depending on local laws, and possibly destroy such data immediately to protect users.

The broadband stimulus bill currently before Congress could possibly add “political saliency” to censorship efforts, Rosen said.

Rosen warned that with government money invested in network infrastructure, strings attached to the funding could lead to a “slippery slope” on speech issues.

But as it becomes more difficult to function without access in an increasingly online world and Internet access becomes more and more of a “right,” Post emphasized that how we pay for an expanded network will nonetheless be the subject of many important policy decisions. How much time we spend online will most certainly factor into how Internet governance evolves, he said.

Andrew Feinberg was the White House Correspondent and Managing Editor for Breakfast Media. He rejoined BroadbandBreakfast.com in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at BroadbandBreakfast.com from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as a Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. He also covered the White House for Russia's Sputnik News from the beginning of the Trump Administration until he was let go for refusing to use White House press briefings to promote conspiracy theories, and later documented the experience in a story which set off a chain of events leading to Sputnik being forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Andrew's work has appeared in such publications as The Hill, Politico, Communications Daily, Washington Internet Daily, Washington Business Journal, The Sentinel Newspapers, FastCompany.TV, Mashable, and Silicon Angle.

Health

Digital Literacy Training Needed for Optimal Telehealth Outcomes, Healthcare Reps Say

Digital literacy should be a priority to unlock telehealth’s potential, a telehealth event heard.

Published

on

Photo of telehealth consultation from Healthcare IT News

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – Digital literacy training should be a priority for providers and consumers to improve telehealth outcomes, experts said at a conference Tuesday.

Digital literacy training will unlock telehealth’s potential to improve health outcomes, according to the event’s experts, including improving treatment for chronic diseases, improving patient-doctor relationships, and providing easier medical access for those without access to transportation.

Julia Skapik of the National Association of Community Health Centers said at the National Telehealth Conference on Tuesday that both patients and clinicians need to be trained on how to use tools that allow both parties to communicate remotely.

Skapik said her association has plans to implement training for providers to utilize tech opportunities, such as patient portals to best engage patients.

Ann Mond Johnson from the American Telemedicine Association agreed that telehealth will improve health outcomes by giving proper training to utilize the technology to offer the services.

The Federal Communications Commission announced its telehealth program in April 2021, which set aside $200 million for health institutions to provide remote care for patients.

Continue Reading

Digital Inclusion

W. Antoni Sinkfield: To Succeed in 21st Century, Communities Need to Get Connected Now

One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community and understand its problems.

Published

on

The author of this Expert Opinion is Reverend W. Antoni Sinkfield, Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary.

One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community, understand its problems, and provide support in challenging times. Particularly during the pandemic, it has been hard not to notice that my parishioners, and folks across the country, are divided into two groups: those with access to the internet, and those without.

In 2022, digital inclusion is still something we strive for in poor and rural areas throughout America. The lack of reliable internet access is an enormous disadvantage to so many people in all facets of their lives.

To fully participate in today’s society, all people, no matter who they are and no matter where they live, must have access to the internet. Think of the remote learning every child had to experience when schools were closed, and the challenges that families faced when they didn’t have access to a quality connection.

It’s a question of plain fairness.

Politicians have been talking for decades about bringing high-speed internet access to everyone, however many families continue to be left behind. More than 42 million people across the country lack affordable, reliable broadband connections, and as many as 120 million people who cannot get online are stuck with slow service that does not allow them to take advantage of everything the internet has to offer.

People of color are disproportionately affected by lack of broadband access

Lack of broadband disproportionately affects communities of color, as well: 35 percent of Americans of Latino descent and 29 percent of African-Americans do not have a broadband connection at home.

Every person in rural towns, urban neighborhoods, and tribal communities needs and deserves equal and full economic and educational opportunities. Studies show that students without home access to the internet are less likely to attend college and face a digital skills gap equivalent to three years’ worth of schooling. Small businesses, which are the cornerstone of rural and urban communities alike, need broadband to reach their customers and provide the service they expect.

Simply put, having access to the internet in every community is vital to its ability to succeed in the 21st century.

Fortunately, we have an opportunity to take major steps toward a solution. Last year, Congress passed President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides $65 billion to expand broadband access and affordability. It is essential that we use this money to connect as many unserved and underserved communities as we can – and as quickly as we can.

Different places need different options to bridge the digital divide

As we bridge the digital divide, we must listen to those who have been left behind and make sure that we deploy solutions that fit their needs. Different places need different options – so it’s important that all voices are heard, and the technology that works best for the community is made readily available.

All people need access to broadband to learn, work, shop, pay bills, and get efficient healthcare.

When I talk to my parishioners, they speak about how much of their lives have transitioned online and are frustrated about not having reliable access. They do not care about the nuances of how we bring broadband to everyone. They just want to have it now – and understandably so.

This means that we must explore all solutions possible to provide high-speed broadband with the connection and support they need, when they need it, regardless of where they live.

Now is the time to meet those struggling where they are, stop dreaming about bridging the divide, and just get it done. Our government has a rare opportunity to fix an enormous problem, using money already approved for the purpose. Let’s make sure they do so in a manner that works for the communities they’re trying to help.

Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield, Ph.D., serves as Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary, and is an ordained Itinerate Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

Biden Delivers Remarks on Free Broadband to Qualified Households

Biden compared the value of broadband to telephone service, and drew parallels to the historic effort to connect the country.

Published

on

Screenshot of President Joe Biden delivering remarks at the White Hose Rose Garden

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2022 – President Joe Biden emphasized the essential nature of broadband during a public appearance on Monday.

Biden delivered remarks at the White House Rose Garden on the day’s earlier announcement that the federal government would work with both regional and national broadband providers to provide essentially free broadband to qualified households.

“Too many Americans simply cannot afford to get connected even if there is access to get connected. So, they go without high-speed internet, or they sacrifice other necessities in order to make it work,” Biden said.

“High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer – it is a necessity,” Biden said. “That is why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”

Biden also laid out the criteria for eligible households to take advantage of Affordable Connectivity Program, which when paired with the effort by ISPs to keep 100 Mbps download services under $30, provides free internet to consumers.

“If your household income is twice the federal poverty level or less – that is that’s about $55,000 per year for a family of four – or $27,000 for an individual – or a member of your household is on Medicaid or supplementary [social] security income or a number of other programs – you are eligible.”

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending