FCC Seeks Comment on Steps to Combat Digital Discrimination

On December 21, 2022, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking1 (“NPRM”) seeking comment on steps to promote and facilitate equal access to broadband internet service, with the goal of creating a framework of rules to address digital discrimination of access to broadband for historically excluded and marginalized communities.

Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on how to define “digital discrimination of access,” as well as whether to adopt a definition based on disparate impact (effect), disparate treatment (intent), or both. Other questions regarding the definition include what types of services should be encompassed, what consumers should be covered, and what policies or practices are capable of differentially impacting consumers’ access to broadband.

The NPRM also seeks comment on proposed revisions to the FCC’s informal consumer complaint process to accept complaints of digital discrimination, the proposed adoption of model policies and best practices for states and localities to combat digital discrimination, and the rules the Commission should adopt to facilitate equal access to broadband internet service and prevent digital discrimination of access.

Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and Reply Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred. If you would like to file comments or would like to discuss this further, please contact Dee Herman at [email protected] or Shannon Forchheimer at [email protected].

[1] Implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Prevention and Elimination of Digital Discrimination, GN Docket No. 22-69, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Dec. 22, 2022).