Broadband in the Omnibus, Facebook on Hate Speech, Advocacy for Keeping Russians Online

The Senate has passed an omnibus spending bill that furthers broadband funding and will now head to Biden’s desk.

Broadband in the Omnibus, Facebook on Hate Speech, Advocacy for Keeping Russians Online
Photo of Senate majority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., from October 2020 by Senate Democrats

March 11, 2022 – On Thursday night the Senate passed a fiscal year 2022 omnibus spending bill which invests an additional $4 million in rural development programs to expand broadband access, now sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk.

Among the $4 million, $550 million will go strictly towards expansion of broadband service and $450 million will go towards the ReConnect Program which provides loans and grants to fund broadband construction and improvement.

$382 million will also go to the Federal Communications Commission to support efforts attempting to expand broadband access, improve telecommunications security and administer COVID-19 relief programs.

This is an increase of $8 million from what the FCC was provided in fiscal year 2021.

The bill also allocates funding to avoid a government shutdown and $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine following its entry into war.

Facebook alters hate speech policy on Russia

It was reported Thursday that Facebook and Instagram will allow calls for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in some countries as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

The policy marks a substantial change in the platforms’ rules on hate speech, violence and incitement.

In Russia, Ukraine and Poland posts which call for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will also be allowed.

Should the calls for death contain other targets or have two indicators of credible threats, such as the location or method, then they will not be permitted.

Last week following restrictions from Facebook on Russian state-controlled media, Russia said it would block Facebook in the country.

Human and digital rights organizations press to maintain Russian internet access

Over 40 human and digital rights organizations published an open letter to the Biden administration Thursday which opposed limiting Russians’ internet access in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Two major internet providers have already cut service in Russia following the invasion, and several other software and telecom companies have halted sales threatening to revoke Russians citizens’ access to international services.

Pressure on technology providers to halt services remains high.

Some companies have cited the threat of sanctions as their reason for limiting services.

The letter’s authors argued that taking away internet access would continue the Russian government’s repression of citizens and called on the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to issue a license authorizing the provision of services, software and hardware to Russia that will allow for internet communications.

They also asked that government officials seeking to sanction Russia and in turn restrict internet access first consult with civil society groups.

Popular Tags