There’s reason to fret about the FCC’s digital discrimination rule for broadband subsidies

Heralded as a rare bipartisan achievement, a spending bill to expand internet access is revealing devils in its details. 

When Congress and President Joe Biden enacted $65 billion worth of broadband subsidies as part of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, it also directed the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new rules to prevent “digital discrimination” in the rollout of high-speed access. But in crafting those new rules, the FCC’s decision to go beyond banning “discriminatory intent” on the part of providers and instead prohibit “disparate impact” on broadband adoption has revealed decidedly partisan cracks in the program’s implementation.

In the same year the legislation was passed, the Pew Research Center found that 23% of the public did not have access to a broadband connection at home. Reasons for the so-called digital divide include geographic impediments and socioeconomic hurdles. The issue came to the forefront of political agendas
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