Internet for Everyone

I spent the beginning of this week at The Personal Democracy Forum’s 2008 Conference. During the conference, Free Press (an Overbrook grantee) held a news briefing announcing the launch of a new campaign called Internet for Everyone.

Two statistics mentioned truly shocked me: In America only 35% percent of homes with less than $50,000 in annual income have a high-speed Internet connection and nearly 20 million Americans live in areas that are not served by a single broadband provider. If we ever needed specific evidence of a digital divide, when it comes to the internet, this is it.

In this day and age, access to the Internet is no longer a luxury but is instead a necessity. The Internet is becoming, if it is not already, the primary method of communication and if every community doesn’t have a fast, open and affordable Internet, they will inevitably be left behind.

The Internet for Everyone Campaign will focus on four key principles:

Access: Every home and business in America must have access to a high-speed, world class communications infrastructure.

Choice: Every consumer must enjoy real competition in lawful online content as well as among high-speed Internet providers to achieve lower prices and higher speeds.

Openess: Every Internet user should have the right to freedom of speech and commerce online in an open market without gatekeepers or discrimination.

Innovation: The Internet should continue to create good jobs, foster entrepreneurship, spread new ideas and serve as a leading engine of economic growth.

Free Press also announced that it’s working with federal and city officials to hold a series of local broadband hearings to gather public input to guide a national broadband plan. If you want to find out how to participate in those hearings you can click here. You can also view the full-length press conference here.