The pandemic has amplified the tech policy problems Public Knowledge has fought to improve for decades. These new circumstances demonstrate how urgent attention is needed from policymakers. We have called for several short- and long-term solutions for broadband, news media policy, privacy, intellectual property, and platform competition.
You can read the full list of our proposals here.
- We have called on Congress to subsidize broadband access in the upcoming stimulus bills, which included a leading a letter to Congressional leadership from 200 businesses and organizations and testifying before the Senate.
- We’ve also called on internet service providers to report all traffic management information to the Federal Communications Commission and eliminate data caps, throttling, overage fees, and shut-offs.
- We’ve asked the FCC to open the 5.9 GHz and 6 GHz unlicensed spectrum bands, which would dramatically increase the speed and capacity of Wi-Fi available to all Americans.
- We continue to push for broadband to be reclassified as a Title II service, which would allow the FCC to do whatever it takes to promote universal service and prevent outages.
- We’ve called on Congress to support local journalism in the COVID-19 stimulus bills. People are turning to local media outlets more than ever for information on the pandemic in their communities, and these are more essential resources than ever as platforms combat misinformation. But these entities are facing significant losses and new threats to extinction in the new environment. We’ve offered specific proposals for funding this invaluable resource.
- We’ve also been tracking responses to misinformation by digital platforms at misinfotrackingreport.com, and have proposed a Superfund for the Internet in which digital platforms pay journalistic organizations to supply information cleansing services. Pandemic-related misinformation is rampant on digital platforms and they have a responsibility to do more to combat it.
We’ve raised the alarms on consumer privacy. In the scramble to combat COVID-19, initiatives have been proposed that have serious possible privacy ramifications, including geotracking individuals to see if they are complying with social distancing, directing individuals to screening tools that don’t have to comply with health privacy laws, and publishing the identities of those who have been infected. While personal data collection and analysis may be necessary to fight the virus, it’s important that policymakers be conscious of the potential harms that could arise.
Controlled Digital Lending
We’ve expanded our advocacy for Controlled Digital Lending, which allows libraries to connect with and serve their patrons even when natural disasters, public health emergencies, and mass closures disrupt normal operations. To promote and protect Controlled Digital Lending, Congress should provide certainty by codifying an explicit copyright exemption for libraries to digitize and digitally lend their collections.
We’ve reinforced our call for a digital platform regulator. As we move more and more of our lives online to comply with new social distancing requirements, digital platforms are becoming even more powerful. We have almost no regulations protecting smaller businesses from the dominant platforms they rely on to reach their customers. Big platforms may scoop up small competitors struggling to survive in the new environment. We’ve increased our advocacy for nondiscrimination, interoperability, merger review, and business data privacy protection to promote competition on and against the most powerful digital platforms.