38 Public Interest Organizations Call for Questions on Expanding Internet Access in Upcoming Presidential Debates
Given Issue’s Economic and Social Impacts, Letter to Debate Moderators Calls for Broadband Access Disparity to be Part of Presidential Candidate Discussions
March 3, 2016: Ahead of the next round of presidential debates, 38 public interest groups sent a letter today to the moderators of the four upcoming debates, urging them to ask how the candidates will help more Americans have access to affordable high-speed Internet choices. The full letter can be found attached.
The over three dozen signers include a diverse group of national civil rights groups, technology policy advocates, media advocates, and community organizing groups concerned with the fact that approximately 34 million Americans still lack access to high-speed Internet, and the consequences of this divide.
The letter emphasizes the importance of ensuring affordable access to high-speed Internet for more Americans, given the wide-ranging economic, social, and civic benefits, and encourages moderators to use the remaining debates to ask candidates about their plans to address current disparities in Internet access.
“In an election that has so heavily focused on equality of opportunity, there has been no mention in the debates of Internet access as a driver for the American economy,” the letter reads. “For all of the talk of taxes, higher education, and healthcare, candidates and journalists have largely ignored a critical issue that would make it easier and more affordable for low-income families, communities of color, and rural Americans to find jobs, get an education, and increase the opportunities for their families and futures.”
There is broad public support for presidential action to improving Internet access. In recent polling, 64 percent of Americans agreed that expanding Internet access should be a priority for the next president, and a majority agree that the benefits of improving Internet access to help improve children’s education outweigh the potential costs to taxpayers.
“The Internet is an increasingly essential part of our everyday lives, which is why it’s so important to ensure that everyone has affordable access to high-speed Internet,” said David Christopher, communications manager for OpenMedia. “We cannot afford to keep leaving low-income and rural citizens behind, so it’s crucial that candidates from both parties now make their plans clear.”
The letter was sent today to CNN, Flint Journal, Fox News, MLive, Salem Radio, The Washington Times, The Washington Post, and Univision. The remaining debates are March 3 and March 10 for Republicans, and March 6 and March 9 for Democrats.