This week I learned – on the Internet – about the latest impact from the privatization of daily life: young students, especially in rural, tribal and low income communities of color, having to resort to fast food places like McDonald's to do their homework. No public libraries, no access at school, and unable to afford Internet at home even if it’s available, the only “free” option for wifi comes with a side of diabetes and heart disease.
In an era of options, why does free have to come with a price? With wifi and community broadband, there shouldn’t have to be a catch. And the next generation shouldn’t have to be confined to paying a hefty fee for internet at home or seeking out the nearest fast food joint or café to connect.
We’ve gotten to a point where corporations are receiving welfare while communities see public libraries open less and schools falling behind with technology.
However, we could see this confluence of young students lacking access to public wifi and affordable healthy food as a wakeup call – and demand that the Federal Communications Commission use its authority to make community broadband accessible to all in these underserved areas.
The FCC is currently adopting reforms to the Universal Service Fund, which could go many ways. Check out what the Center for Media Justice and the Praxis Project are doing around this issue and sign their letter urging the FCC to adopt rules that would enable communities to access the net without the adverse health effects.
Erick Boustead is a Co-Director of MAG-Net Member Line Break Media, which exists to support people working for justice in their communities through narrative development and multimedia production and trainings. Check out their recently launched campaign to prevent displacement leading up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil at www.RootingfortheHomeTeam.org