Asian Americans need help accessing Internet services, too

Photo credit: Daniel Hoherd via Creative Commons

By Carl Hum

In 1985, the very first dot-com domain was registered and the Internet was still in its infancy as primarily an academic and military network. That same year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched Lifeline to provide a discount on phone service to qualified, low-income individuals to ensure that all Americans have access to family, jobs and emergency services.

Since its inception, Lifeline has helped connect over 14 million individuals to the modern necessity of phone service. Fast forward 30 years later to 2015, domain names are being auctioned off for millions of dollars and the Internet has become an essential tool for daily life. But Lifeline still only covers phone service.

Thankfully, this past summer, the FCC proposed sweeping rules to bring Lifeline into the 21st century by extending the discount to broadband service.

Advancing Justice | AAJC has been fighting for the FCC to expand Lifeline ever since it became clear that having Internet is necessary to access crucial government services, apply for jobs, do homework, and put simply, for Americans to get ahead. Today, we filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of its plan, and encouraged the Commission to finalize a rule that considers the impact lack of broadband services has had on low-income Asian Americans.

Often times, because of the model minority myth, policy makers don’t recognize how subsidized federal programs like Lifeline are needed to help Asian Americans. Failure to recognize that our communities are one of the fastest-growing populations in poverty could leave segments of the Asian American community to fend for themselves.

According to the Pew Research Center, almost 16 percent of low-income Asian American families with school-age children lack access to high-speed connection at home.

The FCC’s proposed rule might be long overdue, but we’re pleased with the direction it’s moving in. We hope when the FCC finalizes its rule, it keeps the needs of the Asian American community in mind and does not exclude us from the broadband dialogue. We know our communities need this support just as much as any other.

Check out our comments and tell the FCC you want to level the playing field by seeing Lifeline expanded to include broadband services. We can’t truly achieve equality without ensuring that all Americans have access to same basic necessities, and today that includes access to the Internet.

Fighting for civil rights for all and working to empower #AAPIs to participate in our democracy. Follow: @johncyangdc @tao_minnis @meganessaheb

Fighting for civil rights for all and working to empower #AAPIs to participate in our democracy. Follow: @johncyangdc @tao_minnis @meganessaheb