The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened a new proceeding seeking feedback on how to prevent and eliminate digital discrimination to ensure that everyone has equal access to broadband services.

“[W]ith this proceeding we seek to identify the policies and practices that can lead to digital discrimination. Recognizing that this won’t be easy, we are going to do it in a thoughtful way – starting with today’s Notice of Inquiry,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rocenworcel.

“We ask how we should define digital discrimination and seek data and analytics to help inform our understanding of when, where, and why it happens,” she said. “To do this, we need input from stakeholders far and wide: from the public; from state, local, and Tribal governments; from public interest advocates; from academics; from the private sector; and from anyone else with information and ideas.”

The new proceeding comes on the heels of the FCC forming the Task Force to Prevent Digital Discrimination, which is a cross-agency task force that will focus on creating rules and policies to combat digital discrimination and to promote equal broadband access nationwide.

In a press release, the FCC said its Notice of Inquiry “starts the process of establishing a shared understanding of the harms experienced by historically excluded and marginalized communities, with the intent of making meaningful policy reforms and systems improvements.”

Specifically, the notice asks for comment on how to implement provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that require the FCC to combat digital discrimination, and to promote equal access to broadband across the country, regardless of income level, ethnicity, race, religion, or national origin.

The FCC is looking for answers to the following questions:

  • What rules the commission should adopt to facilitate equal access to broadband internet access service and prevent digital discrimination?
  • What other steps the commission should take to eliminate digital discrimination?
  • What data the commission should rely on as it considers the issue of digital discrimination?
  • How should the commission revise its public complaint process to accept complaints related to digital discrimination?
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