Next Monday, I will meet with My Sister’s Place, a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence and their children, along with other organizations working hard to help survivors get a fresh start. I welcome the opportunity to hear their stories and gain a better understanding of the challenges they face. I also look forward to discussing ways the FCC can help. Over the past year, the Commission has significantly stepped up its efforts to make sure those experiencing domestic violence have the ability to seek the help they need safely and securely. Monday’s discussion will help to ensure these ongoing efforts are informed by the experiences of domestic violence survivors and the organizations that serve them. I’m pleased to say that our February Open Meeting will be headlined by a proposal that will allow us to translate these discussions into action. Here’s what the Commission will consider three weeks from now.
- We’re helping domestic violence survivors access safe and affordable connectivity. Private phone or internet service can help survivors break away from their abusers and find safe support networks. This past December, Congress passed the Safe Connections Act of 2022 to support the connectivity needs of survivors. The Commission will take up proposed rules to implement key provisions in the new law, drawing on work we have already done in an earlier proceeding. In particular, we will consider rules that would help survivors separate service lines from accounts that include their abusers, protect the privacy of calls made by survivors to domestic abuse hotlines, and support survivors who suffer from financial hardship access our Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs.
- We’re connecting Tribal communities. Libraries are a vital source of internet access across Indian country. The Commission recently adopted changes to our E-Rate program rules to make it easier for Tribal libraries to take advantage of this support, in addition to launching a pilot program to make sure all Tribal Libraries are connected. We will vote to seek comment on ways to further improve program rules and encourage greater Tribal participation in the program, in addition to exploring whether similar reforms may be needed to encourage greater participation by non-Tribal applicants.
- We will also consider an adjudicatory matter from our Media Bureau.