Over the past two decades, the Internet has transformed the economy and daily life for millions of Americans. For the LGBT community in particular, the ability to connect to the Internet has been critical, offering connections and communication, and also access to education, health care information, and other vital resources. For LGBT individuals in remote or rural areas, a broadband connection provides an immediate connection to a large, welcoming, global community. Further, for homeless LGBT youth or for those in crisis, that connection can also be a lifeline, leading to safety, good health, and the opportunity for a brighter future. With connectivity playing such a central role in the lives of LGBT individuals, it is vital that our technology and our policies around the deployment of broadband remain aggressive and open to as many people as possible.
Twenty years ago, the Clinton Administration decided to let the Internet evolve with minimal government intervention and embraced the Internet as a tool for the release of government information. Under Bush, the E-Government Act of 2002 established a federal office of electronic government to manage and promote electronic government and the use of Internet-based information technology to improve citizen access to government information and services. Today’s vibrant broadband and technology ecosystem is a sign this approach has worked well. It has encouraged innovation, competition, and investment that brought us today’s modern communications infrastructure – both wired and wireless. Expanding access to broadband is crucial for our community and for many others, so we support smart policies that continue the approach that has worked so well for so long.
Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held an FCC oversight hearing. The purpose was to evaluate the FCC’s performance on a number of pressing issues, including the agency’s overall approach to regulating the Internet. At the hearing it was clear that FCC Commissioners continue to be divided on how to best promote broadband competition, deployment and regulation. But with the stakes so high the agency must get it right. Today more than ever, it’s crucial that the government enacts policies that strike the proper balance between encouraging the investment and competition that leads to expanded access to next-generation services and technologies and the privacy and access policies that ensure that communities like ours continue to enjoy the fruits of the broadband revolution.
LGBT Tech will remain vigilant to ensure our community is kept top-of-mind as these important policy issues are examined. Our future depends on it.