WASHINGTON, February 8, 2022—Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel today announced the formation of a cross-agency task force that will focus on creating rules and policies to combat digital discrimination and to promote equal access to broadband across the country, regardless of zip code, income level, ethnicity, race, religion, or national origin. D’wana Terry, Special Advisor to the Chairwoman and Acting Director of the Office of Workplace Diversity, will lead this agency wide effort in collaboration with Sanford Williams, Special Advisor to the Chairwoman and Deputy Managing Director in the Office of the Managing Director and Alejandro Roark, Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, with additional support from other Commission bureaus and offices.
“This work will touch almost every part of the agency and it’s why I’ve asked D’wana Terry to lead this effort from my office. D’wana has held senior leadership positions within teams that will be critical to this effort including the Wireline Competition Bureau, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. With support from Sanford Williams and Alejandro Roark, as well as the support of every Bureau and Office at the agency, I have every confidence that D’wana and her team will ensure that we properly take on what Congress has asked of us,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “Addressing digital discrimination and redlining is a critical piece to living up to our standard of equal access to the infrastructure needed for 21st century success—no matter who you are or where you live. Your zip code should not determine access to broadband—which this pandemic has proven is a must have, just like electricity or water.”
Per the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the FCC is tasked with several directives to combat digital discrimination and redlining. Specifically, the Commission must adopt final rules to facilitate equal access to broadband service that prevents digital discrimination and promotes equal access to robust broadband internet access service by prohibiting deployment discrimination based on the income, racial or ethnic composition, and other agency determined relevant factors of a community. Additionally, the cross-agency Task Force to Prevent Digital Discrimination will oversee the development of model policies and best practices states and local governments can adopt that ensure ISPs do not engage in digital discrimination. Lastly, the FCC will revise its public complaint process to seek feedback more prominently from consumers who may be facing digital discrimination in their communities. In accordance with the law, these collective initiatives must be completed by November 2023.