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  • Writer's pictureJorge Rivera

Internet Freedom for All: A Call for Independence from Digital Oppression

Updated: Jun 28


As we celebrate Independence Day, it's crucial to recognize the battles still being fought on the home front—especially the fight for equitable internet access. In Los Angeles County, the dominance of Charter/Spectrum, which controls over 80% of internet services, highlights a modern struggle for digital independence. This monopoly not only restricts where and how services are provided but also inflates costs, predominantly affecting the most vulnerable communities. Just as a single store would have undue power to set prices for essentials, this lack of competition places undue burdens on those least able to bear them.


Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Charter, Frontier and AT&T are NOT regulated like water, gas and electricity are, which allows them to decided what services they will provide, how much they will charge for those services and where they spend time and money to lay down fiber/cables, which is called the infrastructure. And because they are all about the profit, they will be making decisions based on what makes them more money instead of who really needs the service. 


In fact research has shown how they choose to charge higher promotional pricing in low income areas, which speaks to their discriminatory pricing practices, although they will tell us that its a business decision and not intentional discrimination. As an organization that emphasizes empathy, we know there’s a difference between intent and impact. And the impact affects low income people of color more…keeping us disconnected from the resources that help us survive and thrive. 


Because of this, we believe the necessity of the internet transcends convenience and luxury; it is a lifeline connecting us to education, healthcare, job opportunities, to each other and so much more! Yet, many are deprived of this ‘essential service’, deepening existing inequalities. And not only the practical necessities, but exacerbating community stress and mental health challenges our communities already face with poverty, discrimination, and the oppressive systems we set out to dismantle. Imagine the stress and impact on mental health during COVID when a family couldn’t get their children to attend school, parents attending work and earn income, fear of being evicted, wondering if they will be infected and how they will take care of the health of their loved ones, etc. etc. 


So, on this Independence Day…4th of July, as we celebrate freedom of the United States, lets think about and question whether we have TRUE FREEDOM when providers like Charter, Frontier and AT&T can dictate who has internet and who doesn’t. Let us ignite a campaign for digital freedom that mirrors the spirit of the day—freedom from oppression, freedom to access information, and freedom to participate fully in society. By advocating for regulatory changes and encouraging competitive practices, we aim to dismantle monopolies that hinder economic and social progress.


Join us in demanding change, in pushing for policies that recognize internet service as a basic right, and in ensuring that every community, regardless of economic standing, can connect, thrive, and enjoy the full benefits of our digital age. Together, let's ensure that our digital landscape reflects our highest ideals of equity and justice. Let's make digital independence a reality for all.


For more information on how you can get involved, reach out at Jorge@healingandjusticecenter.org with the subject: Digital Equity NOW


“We are better together. We are stronger together!”

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