New Media Rights calls on California Broadband Council to set higher goals: inclusiveness, openness, and expanded definitions of digital literacy

June 24th, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact: Art Neill 619-591-8870

On June 23, 2011, New Media Rights' Director Art Neill offered the following comments to the California Broadband Council. The comments suggested additional workgroups, an expanded definition of digital literacy, making all data and materials produced by the Council public domain or openly licensed, as well as observations on challenges with the Comcast's FCC mandated reduced price low-speed internet service. Also speaking were allies including Richard Chabran of California Broadband Policy Network (CBPN), Tracy Rosenberg of the Media Alliance and CBPN, and Shaun Mclaughlin of Access Humboldt and CBPN.

The following is rough transcript of Art's verbal comments to the Council:

"New Media Rights provides one-to-one assistance to individuals with their rights when creating and sharing information online. We also offer a free public studio and equipment to the community in San Diego. We also support the Council’s efforts to improve coordination of state agencies to compete for federal funds available through the National Broadband Plan.

The Council has an opportunity to play a productive role in making sure Digital Inclusion becomes a reality for many more Californians. As New Media Rights has stated before, the effectiveness of the Council will depend on its ability to truly reach out to those community based organizations that are helping to advance digital inclusion at the local level. We support the comments of CBPN and Access Humboldt.

Specifically, we do support the work of the 3 workgroups on today’s agenda, and appreciate the inclusion of a CBPN representative on 2 of the workgroups. We also encourage the CBC to include a CBPN representative on the third committee. We also would encourage the CBC to consider and explore other relevant committees, including CBPN’s proposed workgroups on Digital Literacy and Non-profit groups.

It’s important to note that today Digital Literacy is much broader than turning on a computer and accessing Internet, and it is a patchwork of our non-profit Media Arts Centers other such centers that bring true digital literacy to new individuals.

Digital Literacy also means:

- Being able to effectively participate in government proceedings

- Being able to find employment and navigate online application systems

- Being able to be an active participant in cultural, social, and political exchange online by using social media and web services

Today true digital literacy, and inclusion must mean also being able to communicate with the world by creating and edit video, audio, designing and running a blog or website, as well as other multimedia, all while understanding your digital rights and responsibilities and your privacy rights.

Digital rights education is critical, you have 175,000 people being sued right now for filesharing around the country, so copyright and other forms of digital rights education are also basic pieces to this puzzle Openness / Transparency. To the extent possible, all data produced by the Council and its workgroups, particularly items like map data and digital literacy materials, should be made available to the public and clearly marked as either Public Domain materials or openly licensed under open content licenses like Creative Commons. This will allow others in our state to build upon our work here.

Comcast Challenges with CBOP program

The holes left by FCC include not providing the program to those individuals who have purchased service within 90 days as well as to those who are in collections. These conditions will actually significantly limit availability, as many customers who would otherwise qualify but have service already will not see the benefit. We must ensure that customers are not being pressured into upgrading to higher plans, charged for installation or modem fees when the FCC forbade it, or duped into purchasing inferior computer equipment.

We look forward to finding ways to help the Council make meaningful strides towards digital inclusion."

See our previous comments at the First Broadband Council meeting here

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