Office of U.S. Representative Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09)
Today, the House passed H.R. 1644, the “Save the Internet Act,” which included an amendment introduced by Representative Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09) to help promote accessible and affordable broadband internet service on tribal land.
The Save the Internet Act, if signed into law, would reverse the repeal by President Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of net neutrality protections. The bill outlines three net neutrality principles: no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. It also restores the Federal Communications Commission’s authority to support funding of broadband access and deployment, especially in rural communities.
Stanton’s amendment directs the Federal Communications Commission Chairman to engage with and collect feedback and data from tribal stakeholders and providers of broadband internet to evaluate their access and monitor affordability.
“Access to high-speed internet is essential in today’s economy—it’s a key component to our nation’s innovation infrastructure,” Stanton said during his remarks on the House Floor. “Yet on tribal lands across this country, a digital divide exists, and we have to work to close it.”
According to an estimate from the United States Census Bureau, only 53 percent of Native Americans living on tribal lands have access to high-speed internet service compared to 82 percent of all households nationally.
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined how the Federal Communications Commission collects, validates and uses data on broadband availability. It found that the Federal Communications Commission overstates the availability of broadband internet service on tribal lands and that the digital divide is greater than many originally thought.
“These overstatements limit Federal Communications Commission and tribal users’ ability to target broadband funding to tribal lands,” the Government Accountability Office concluded.
The Federal Communications Commission even categorized communities as broadband “accessible” when those areas don’t have the infrastructure needed to connect homes to a service provider’s network.
“Part of the challenge in the lack of reliable data stems from the lack of meaningful consultation and engagement with tribal nations,” Stanton said. “It’s more than just checking a box—it’s important for the Federal Communications Commission to not only listen to tribes but to actively engage and learn from them.”
Stanton co-sponsored H.R. 1644.