LGBT Tech: Reclassify ISPs Under Title I

LGBT Tech—whose charter is to "ensure that media, telecommunications and high technology issues of specific concern to LGBT communities are addressed in public policy conversations"—has told the FCC that it should reclassify internet access as a Title I service, which it said would and should put them on the same regulatory footing as edge providers, "thereby ensuring consistency and uniformity across the Internet ecosystem while ensuring that the bedrock principles of transparency, no blocking and no unreasonable discrimination are part of any FCC Internet policy." 

That came in comments filed this week on the FCC's proposal to reclassify ISPs under Title I. 

Regulating both ISPs and the edge—something former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said he could not do—is important to the LGBT community, the group said. "LGBT Tech has always supported and continues to support an Internet policy that ensures full and equal access for LGBT consumers and remains concerned that applying different standards to different participants in the Internet ecosystem will harm consumers," it said.

"The Internet has become an indispensable tool for members of the LGBT community offering connections and communication, and also access to education, health care information, and other vital resources," it told the FCC, adding that "over 50% of LGBT individuals use the Internet to meet new people and find others they can relate to. Further, surveys have shown that 81% of youth who identify as LGBT have used their connection to the Internet to search for health information compared to 46% of non-LGBT youth."

LGBT Tech said the best solution for giving the FCC a roadmap to insuring an open internet is for Congress to come together to pass compromise legislation clarifying its authority. 

Some argue the FCC has no authority to regulate the internet, some that it has sufficient authority to regulate it under Title I, and some that only Title II will guarantee an end to the legal/policy ping-pong game.

In any event, getting a bipartisan bill out of Congress on a controversial subject and in the present political climate will be an uphill climb unless some Democrats also start actively backing a non-Title II route.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.