FCC tries going dark on wi-fi service for you

Throughout this country, information people need to know is routinely withheld by government, from Capital Hill and the White House in Washington, to the capitol building in Lansing, and at the local City Hall.

As Upper Peninsula residents, we live in the darkest part of the darkest state for government transparency. And the feds make it even darker by the policies they perpetuate. A perfect example affecting Copper Country residents is the Federal Communication Commission’s recent retraction from public release a staff report on modernizing and streamlining the process to expand funding for wi-fi networks.

Like swiss cheese, the U.P. is riddled with pockets where wireless internet access is poor or nonexistent. That is why we commend U.S. Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan and the small group of Senate colleagues who wrote to the FCC to protest the retraction.

The people of the greater Copper Country, along with other Americans living in rural and high-poverty areas, are entitled to broadband access just as any other American.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently decided to retract — withhold from the public — a report detailing the success of the E-Rate program, which ensures internet access to schools and libraries in rural and high-poverty areas.

The program has been extremely successful, the senators claimed, so why would its success not be publicized? Perhaps, they suspect, the intent is to undermine the program by keeping the people in the dark about its success.

“Your actions threaten to roll back progress made in all of these states (that have benefited from the program),” the letter stated.

As to why the FCC would undermine the program is subject to speculation about back-room dealings done out of transparency’s sunshine, but consider this: The people directly benefiting from it are not wealthy campaign donors.

Yet they still possess something in equal measure that wealthy donors have, and that is a vote. In the next election, spend your vote wisely by supporting candidates who stand for sunshine — transparency in government.

A Daily Mining Gazette editorial