by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
(June 27, 2008) The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plan to auction off an unused portion of the wireless spectrum to anyone willing to provide free Internet service without pornography may be derailed by critics crying “censorship!”
A proposal to auction off an unused portion of the wireless spectrum to an owner that will provide free family-friendly Internet service to 95 percent of the U.S. population came after a recent auction found AT&T and Verizon walking away with sizeable portions of the newly opened airwaves. The aim of the new proposal is to encourage another player to enter the market so that consumers can have a viable third choice to cable and DSL.
“The cost of broadband service is a barrier for too many families who want broadband, with more than 100 million Americans without broadband at home,” said Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA).
Eshoo proposed The Wireless Internet Nationwide for Families Act which authorizes the FCC to conduct the auction.
“The results of the (recent) auction disappointed many of us who hoped that a new entrant would emerge,” Eshoo said. “Seventy percent of the spectrum auctioned went to only two carriers. While the auction required under this legislation is open to anyone, it is my hope that the bold conditions of requiring free, family friendly service will encourage the entry of a new kind of national broadband service provider.”
However, free speech activists, including the American Civil Liberties Union, want the FCC to remove the porn-free requirement, claiming such a condition constitutes censorship.
Pro-family groups strongly disagree.
“This is a great step forward in family-friendly technology,” said Rick Schatz, president and CEO of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families. “Such a network would provide children with the benefits of the Internet for education and entertainment without the risk of encountering obscene material. It would be unfortunate to have such a useful tool ruined by indecent content, especially when the benefits would be so numerous.”
Although the auction has been delayed in the past, Schatz says the issue could “reach the table” as early as the July meeting of the FCC, and is urging parents to contact the FCC and let them know how strongly they feel about providing a network that is both free of cost and free of harmful material.
E-mail your support of the porn-free wireless auction to FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin at KJMWEB@fcc.gov
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