FCC Considers New Rules on “Digital Discrimination”

Fiber optic
(Image credit: Pixabay)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Federal Communications Commission has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on the next steps the agency might take to promote and facilitate equal access to broadband internet service for everyone. 

The goal would be to create a framework for combating digital discrimination that has caused harm to historically excluded and marginalized communities, the FCC said. 

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s statutory language as well as proposals put forward in the record developed in response to the FCC’s March 2022 Notice of Inquiry. More specifically, the FCC said it is looking for comments on: 

  • A proposed definition of “digital discrimination of access” as used in the Infrastructure Act.
  • Proposed revisions to the FCC’s informal consumer complaint process to accept complaints of digital discrimination.  
  • Proposed adoption of model policies and best practices for states and localities to combat digital discrimination based on recommendations from the Communications Equity and Diversity Council.
  • Further details of the rules the Commission should adopt to facilitate equal access to broadband internet service and prevent “digital discrimination of access,” as well as identification of necessary steps for the elimination of such discrimination.

The FCC explained that Section 60506 of the Infrastructure Act charged the FCC with several directives to combat digital discrimination, including those addressed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  

Earlier this year, Chairwoman Rosenworcel formed the cross-agency Task Force to Prevent Digital Discrimination and charged the Communications Equity and Diversity Council to issue a report recommending model policies and best practices for states and localities.  

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is designed to build on the work of these groups and to move the Commission closer to completing the prevention and elimination of digital discrimination initiatives set forth in the Infrastructure Act, the FCC said. 

The FCC voted on to launch the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 22-98) on Dec. 21, with Chairwoman Rosenworcel, Commissioners Carr, Starks, and Simington voting in favor.  

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.