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Save the Internet Act for Indian Country

WASHINGTON, DC – On March 6, 2019 Democratic leaders announced legislation to restore net neutrality protections. The Save the Internet Act would restore the 2015 Open Internet Order that prevents internet service providers from blocking, slowing, or giving preferential treatment to any internet content, and prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reclassifying broadband in the future to weaken these standards. It is the most recent Net Neutrality bill introduced by members of Congress.

Native Public Media joined other organizations on March 13, 2019 in Washington, DC to learn more about the Save the Internet Act and Net Neutrality in general. Net Neutrality or consumer protections for the Internet are supported by overwhelming numbers of Americans including vast majorities of Republican, Democratic and independent voters. However, internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, etc. don’t support Net Neutrality.

“Restoring the 2015 Open Internet Order helps provide broadband deployment and affordability in rural America, including Indian Country. This is vital to guarantee that rural and marginalized communities have an equal playing field to access the internet and to use the Internet to stream content over the Internet, advocate for their rights, find housing, search for employment, and connect to the other resources they need to thrive,” stated Melissa Begay, Native Public Media Operations Manager.

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema D-Ariz. is leading a bipartisan working group focused on crafting a net neutrality proposal to encourage Internet Service Providers to boost investment and innovation and to close the digital divide.

Twenty-two federally recognized tribes are located and Arizona. Without net neutrality, Native Americans are even more vulnerable and remain a population largely un-served and underserved in broadband. Internet service in many tribal communities by only one provider (ISP) at rates that are already unaffordable is often the norm. Begay is pessimistic that any new proposals or amendments to the 2015 Order that places the fox or ISPs in the hen house or in control of the Internet will not safeguard net neutrality or other online rights for vulnerable populations.

“Our job as citizens is to assess every proposal to restore Net Neutrality protections and make sure they don’t undermine the FCC’s ability to protect people online by placing Internet oversight into the hands of broadband companies,” concludes Begay.

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