Posts by Clarissa Ramon:

In today’s political climate, it is rare to hear a unified voice from Congress, especially one pertaining to regulation. In today’s House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology’s hearing on “Fighting for Internet Freedom: Dubai and Beyond” one such voice was heard. The overall consensus from member participants was a clear demand to keep the Internet open and free. Held jointly with the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. The hearing focused on last December’s World Conference on International Telecommunications convened by the ITU in Dubai.  

 

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Today, the FCC announced it will be releasing the Wright petition, which addresses the high cost of prison phone calls, for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This news marks the reopening of a discussion that has remained stagnant within the agency for almost a decade. During the coming months, the FCC will be collecting and reviewing comments from a wide array of stakeholders in an effort to recognize public input fairly. It is important that stakeholders continue the pressure preceding the announcement and use the coming months as an opportunity to have their voices heard. Successful actions by partner organizations have led hundreds of letters to be submitted to the FCC from family members of inmates and inmates from across the country, describing the hardships that result from the high cost of phone calls. These stories are important contributions to the docket, and grant the commission entrance into a world
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Attendees at a FCC rally supporting prison phone rate reform hosted by the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice received good news from fellow attendee Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. Clyburn announced long awaited FCC action on the Wright petition by Chairman Genachowski which was circulated for further notice of proposed rule-making to fellow commissioners. This most recent victory was the result of many years of work and activism by multiple stakeholders from around the country who have been calling for relief from exorbitant prison phone costs that harm families of incarcerated individuals.

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Yesterday, November 15th 2012, the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice hosted a rally at the FCC to show support for Wright petition. Among the attendees was FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who announced long awaited action by Chairman Genachowski, who circulated further notice of proposed rulemaking for a vote to his fellow commissioners. The announcement was a culmination of over a decade, of work and activism by multiple stakeholders from around the country who have called for relief from exorbitant prison phone costs that hurt families of incarcerated individuals.
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Today, September 12th 2012, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) sent a joint letter to Chairman Genachowski asking for immediate action on prison phone rate reform. The letter highlighted the lack of movement on the issue, despite the long pending status of the Wright petition at the FCC and legislation introduced by Rep. Rush last Congress. Both would provide relief for families and friends of prisoners who are charged high costs for phone calls. The letter joins recent actions by a civil rights and public interest coalition, grassroots activists and families of prisoners asking the FCC for relief from exorbitant interstate phone rates.

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With less than 10 weeks to go before the election, Republicans and Democrats released party platforms outlining their visions for the future. Below is a comparison on where the parties stand on broadband adoption, net neutrality rules, spectrum auctions, and intellectual property protections.

1. Internet Freedom-

D- “The Obama administration has led the world to recognize and defend Internet Freedom – the freedom of expression, assembly, and association online for people everywhere ­– through coalitions of countries and by empowering individuals with innovative technologies.”

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A recent  survey of adults who use their cell phones to access the Internet found that 2 in 5 Latinos and half of African Americans- double the rate of Whites- conduct a majority or all of their web browsing via their cell phones. While smart phones enable communities to cross over the traditional digital divide and become Internet users, they are not perfect solutions. Data caps have the potential to restrict how and when Internet users go online. As data caps on mobile devices become standard practice, and unlimited data plans dissappear, the importance of carrier transparency about caps will increase.

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This weekend, I attended the 14th annual Allied Media Conference hosted by the Allied Media Projects in Detroit Michigan. The conference brought together community organizers, media mobilizers, technologists, and social justice advocates from around the country to discuss the intersection of technology and media as a vehicle for social change.

Participants represented a wide variety of organizations and movements ranging from immigrant rights networks to prison reform efforts. As a representative of Public Knowledge, working with telecommunications policy at the federal level, it was interesting to see the application of that policy at the local community level.

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In today’s polarized political climate, it is rare to see groups from traditionally opposite ends of the spectrum come together in support of an issue. However, when it comes to keeping families connected and their ability to maintain relationships, groups from both the left and right are meeting in the middle.

Earlier today (May 18), a coalition of civil rights groups, media reform advocates, and conservative leaders joined together on a letter to urge the FCC to act on a petition which addresses the high cost of prison phone calls for families. The coalition included civil rights groups such as The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, Public Knowledge, Free Press and Center for Media Justice to name a few. Conservative signers included David Keene, former chairman of the American Conservative Union and Pat Nolan, president of the Justice Fellowship.

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Please join Public Knowledge in supporting the Media Literacy Project, Strong Families, and Thousand Kites in their efforts to produce “Calls from Home: Mama’s Day Special,” a radio project that connects incarcerated mothers to their families, friends, and
communities.

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