California Assembly Passes Bill to End Digital Discrimination

Antonio Ray Harvey, Maxim Elramsisy, Lila Brown and Joe W. Bowers Jr.| California Black Media

On April 10, the California Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee voted to approve Assembly Bill (AB) 2239 after a hearing at the State Capitol.

The bill that aims to close the digital divide for low-income residents in the state.

Authored by Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), the legislation calls for prohibiting internet service providers from implementing policies and practices that have a negative and unequal impact in low-income communities.

The bill, “addresses a critical issue in our digital age, ensuring equitable access to broadband internet services for all Californians,” Bonta said.

This law protects consumers from “digital discrimination of access” that disproportionately affects communities of color. The bill adopted rules from the Federal Communications Commission that defines “digital discrimination of access” as “policies or practices, not justified by genuine issues of technical or economic feasibility, that differentially impact consumers’ access to broadband internet access service based on their income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion, or national origin, or that are intended to have a differential impact.”

Bonta was backed by dozens of community-based organizations that are advocates for digital equity. More than 40 partners of the California Alliance for Digital Equity showed up to support AB 2239 at the hearing.

The bill, however, faced opposition from other community-based organizations. Opponents stated that the legislation would negatively affect small businesses and overlap with anti-discrimination laws that already exist.

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