E-Commerce, Net Neutrality, and Digital Connectivity for Indian Country
CHANDLER, AZ – The Wiring the Rez conference brought together attorneys, scholars, financiers, tribal leaders, and tax and gaming experts, to share strategies and practical implementations of diverse e-commerce business models that promise economic benefits for Indian Country and bridge the digital divide.
The modern business models included tribally operated technology and data centers, online lending, online sports betting, blockchain technology, and crypto currencies.
“I had an opportunity to talk with tribal leaders about the need to keep the Internet free and open so that businesses can flourish across Indian Country. Without the Internet, modern business models along with jurisdictional and regulatory complexities could become a major barrier if the Federal Communication Commission’s repeal of Internet protections are not restored. The Internet is the central platform and necessary infrastructure for e-commerce and sometimes we overlook that,” states Loris Taylor, President and CEO of Native Public Media.
Tribal leaders discussed the ongoing need for tribes to finance and build infrastructures that facilitate economic growth and to foster an open dialogue with federal and state counterparts that will support strong and healthy economic relationships.
Taylor agrees that keeping an eye on shifting landscapes is also important. “A shifting political, legal, and tax landscape in Indian Country impacts our tribal sovereignty including our economic health. Moving forward, it will be important to monitor and talk about these shifts because they directly impact our collective sovereign future."
An update about Net Neutrality: On February 1, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission went to court to defend its 2017 decision to repeal the Commission’s Net Neutrality consumer protections and eliminate all FCC oversight of Internet Service Providers (ISP’s). In 2018, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate voted to overturn the FCC’s decision and more than 180 members of the House of Representatives cosponsored a Congressional Review Act resolution and signed a discharge petition to follow suit. On February 6, 2019, the House Energy and Commerce, Communications and Technology Committee will convene its first hearing on preserving the Open Internet and hear from several witnesses challenging the FCC’s rollback of Net Neutrality, what policymakers should expect from the DC Circuit Court, and what impact a Court decision will have on potential Congressional action.