With a new year comes change, and one change we’re glad to see in 2021 is new leadership at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). On Thursday, Jan. 21, Jessica Rosenworcel, a longtime FCC commissioner, was appointed as acting chair. It’s an important role that will drive policy discussions affecting the internet and all of us who use it. Her appointment gives us hope that under her wing, the agency will develop strong policies that look out for everyday people. Here are a few reasons Jessica Rosenworcel’s appointment is good for the internet.
Jessica Rosenworcel is a champion for net neutrality
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For the last four years under former Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC moved to dismantle critical net neutrality protections. As a result of the so-called “Restoring Internet Freedom” proceeding in 2018, internet service providers (ISPs) were given the “freedom” to block, slow down or prioritize paid content online, despite the fact that the majority of Americans across both political parties overwhelmingly supported preserving net neutrality.
While serving in the minority on the commission, Chairwoman Rosenworcel helped lead the fight to preserve these fundamental digital rights. She firmly supported net neutrality, then and today. Mozilla has also advocated for net neutrality, going so far as to file a lawsuit challenging the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections.
“The FCC got it wrong when it repealed net neutrality,” Rosenworcel said in a February 2020 statement. “The decision put the agency on the wrong side of history, the American public, and the law. And the courts agreed. That’s why they sent back to this agency key pieces regarding how the rollback of net neutrality protections impacted public safety, low income Americans, and broadband infrastructure. […] The agency wrongfully gave broadband providers the power to block websites, throttle services, and censor online content. The fight for an open internet is not over.”
Jessica Rosenworcel has her eyes on the digital divide
If you’re reading this from a cozy work-from-home situation, you’re probably set up with reliable, speedy internet access. But that’s not the case for millions of Americans, rural and urban, including millions of students who are trying to keep up with learning from their homes.
Millions are relying on Parking-Lot Wi-Fi in this crisis. That’s when cars pull into lots at closed libraries and coffee shops because it’s the only place to go for a free signal to go online for work, school and more. We need to do better. We need a plan for broadband for all.
— Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) April 15, 2020
This disparity has long existed, and fixing it has become more urgent with the pandemic threatening to leave more students behind in their education. It’s anticipated that Rosenworcel will guide the FCC to address access and equity in this broken system. The National School Board Association commented on her appointment saying, “Rosenworcel has long been a champion for closing the digital divide, advocating on behalf of the millions of students left behind because of inadequate internet access.”
She hosts a podcast about women who are making digital life better
Rosenworcel also launched and hosts “Broadband Conversations,” a podcast where she talks to women who are making a difference in our digital world. Policy issues aside, Rosenworcel adopted a pandemic rescue dog, gave bread-baking a go and snapped pics of her neighborhood’s inspirational signs, like a lot of people have over the last year.
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We look forward to working with the FCC to reinstate net neutrality protections and close the digital divide. Jessica Rosenworcel’s ascent to acting chair of the FCC bodes well for the future of both issues. And we can imagine a brighter future for a healthy internet if she were to be nominated for the role permanently.