The Government Should Provide Free Accessible Internet


When this pandemic attacked, our economy was dislodged, our jobs were lost, our masks were distributed, and our homes became our refuge while under siege of this deadly virus. But some American citizens were and are not as lucky. Some do not have homes to take refuge in, or devices to learn on, or masks to wear, or jobs to lose. But, As the fear became reality, society adjusted their needs to continue daily life. (Andrew para. 1) They have converted from going to the store for groceries to shopping online for what they need or instead of going to school face to face, students and schools converted to virtual learning. (Andrew para. 1/13) Unfortunately, some of society was not that lucky. Some lost jobs or just did not have enough money to support this change, while others just cannot and could not change. (Andrew para. 18) Additionally, for those impoverished and/or for those with disabilities this conversion was impossible. (Katz (point of view)) 

On January 21, 2020, the United States braced itself after the first confirmed case of the virus was publicized. (TEGNA para. 2) The infected was a man in his 30's from Washington State. After traveling from Wuhan, China to the United States on United flight 836 to Chicago, Illinois, and arriving in Washington State, he tested positive. In the panic of the pandemic, some of the materials that we took for granite or didn’t have, have now become a necessity. Many were able to accommodate to this to an extent while others were not as privileged. Some claim that these necessities should be provided by the government. Others believe that the government would control too much and not provide these necessities as well as they are currently provided.

Since the beginning of this year (2020), citizens of the united states and of the 195 other countries and/or territories have found that the digital switch and lack of physical interaction with others has caused a newfound deficiency of inevitabilities. These inevitabilities include the constant use and access of digital life, internet, devices, news forums, etc. Those impoverished and disabled within these categories have the most discrepancies. The disabled feel that they are between a rock in a hard place, not sure where to go for assistance during the pandemic. Most of this community does not have access to the internet or digital devices. Thus, they don't have access to the information that those of us who have access to the internet. They claim the government should be providing this since they cannot provide it for themselves. As a citizen of the United Kingdom (U.K.) and someone with a respiratory condition, she has witnessed firsthand the struggle for those who are “disabled” or have “underlying health conditions” during the coronavirus. (Ryan, para. 1) Ryan States, “Instead of overlooking us, the government must put disabled and chronically ill people at the heart of its thinking on coronavirus.” (Ryan, para. 7) Ryan’s claim expresses that the government should be responsible for its citizens and they are doing nothing to remotely help the situation. This is supported by “Public health crises are not equal-opportunity events: the poorest, most marginalized and disabled are generally worst affected, while the wealthy, connected and healthy are able to cushion themselves.” (Ryan, para. 7) Ryan's view concludes that without government help, it is harsher for the impoverished and underprivileged to stay home, stay healthy, and have enough supplies or medicine due to money restrictions, especially during the pandemic. (Ryan, para. 8) Supporting that the digitally disabled need assistance during the coronavirus. 

Additionally, Sarah Katz, an adjunct professor and writer for disabilities, has observed how social distancing and overall low accessibility have affected and undermined the disabled community. On Slate Katz proclaims, “But now, as we shift to working, schooling, shopping, and communicating virtually, the pandemic is showing how many holes remain in digital accessibility. From the absence of captioning to technical obstacles to blatant disregard for who even has access to the internet,” (Katz, para. 4) She exemplifies that the government and other corporations have shown no regard to the disabled community and the digital divide. This includes no regard to the access the disabled need such as those who are deaf need accurate captions or a signer to communicate during a video call. Katz includes, ”According to research by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in April, ‘86 percent of state government unemployment websites fail at least one basic test for mobile page load speed, mobile-friendliness, or accessibility.’” to support her claim. (Katz, para. 4) Katz writes this to explain that not only has the government not done anything about the digital divide but even government unemployment websites fail a basic accessibility check for the disabled. Further proving the government has shown no regard for the digital challenges that are being faced by the disabled and impoverished during the pandemic.

Some find that the government should not be in control of the internet when providing it for the Country Robert M. McDowell a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission and writer for the Washington Post claims that the government will control more of what we say, see or what they can see if they choose to provide free Internet services. He includes the viewpoint of Tim Wu to further prove his point. Wu states "That could include mandates ranging from sufficient local news, sports and weather, to a minimum amount of programming for children." He says that the government could control more than what they already control and impose strict laws to keep control. I agree with Wu that the government would control what is shown, however, we should be able to make these sacrifices if it has become a necessity. Jonathan Aberman a dean and professor of practice at the Marymount University School of Business and Technology and writer for the Washington Post, argues that the internet should be freely provided by the government and notes that access to the internet and electricity alike are mainstreamed by the ability to afford them even though they have become a necessity. He says, "More and more of the information our citizens need to make informed decisions is delivered over the Internet." This further supports that the internet has become a necessity. 

As elucidated in the above paragraphs, from the most marginalized groups to the highest class, the world has acquired a new necessity: digital life. Knowing that problems exist with the digital world, especially now with the pandemic, the government should be able to fix them. To do this the government should treat the internet and digital life as a necessity like food, water, clothes, electricity, shelter, and now masks. The limit of social interaction during the pandemic caused our lives to become virtual and even with the diminutive federal money (stimulus check) given some could not support this change. Without the internet we would be lost, living without access to quick jobs, news reports, and extensions of social interaction. Without jobs many would be without money and our economy would tank, again. Without the latest news updates many would be lost and uninformed. Without social interaction the many would lose sanity and take their own life, raising death rates. The governments should provide us this necessity for free with no regulations to limit these negative effects.

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