The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jen Howard,, (202) 265-1490 x22 or (703) 517-6273 ;  or Lindsy Embree,, (630) 292-8347 (in Los Angeles)

Los Angeles Debates Internet's Future

Hundreds to attend first town hall meeting on Dec. 6


On Dec. 6, hundreds of Los Angeles residents from all walks of life will discuss the future of the Internet at a town hall meeting sponsored by -- a broad-based initiative to connect every American to a fast, open and affordable Internet. This interactive event is the first in a nationwide series to show popular support for making universal Internet access a top priority of the Obama administration and new Congress.

WHAT: Town Hall Meeting

WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008, 12:30 - 5:30 p.m. PT
WHERE: The Radisson at the University of Southern California, 3540 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles

High-speed Internet, or "broadband," is becoming a crucial public necessity -- with unprecedented social, economic and educational potential. But more than 40 percent of all U.S. homes are not connected to the Internet or use slow "dial-up" technology. In California, more than 16 million residents can't access or afford a high-speed Internet connection, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"President-elect Barack Obama talked about the importance of the Internet on the campaign trail, and getting more people online is part of his policy platform," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, the organization coordinating "Getting the entire country connected won't be like flipping a switch. But the conversation about how to put broadband into every home in America needs to start now."

Using the Internet to research candidates' records, raise money and organize was one of the biggest stories of the 2008 election. But many Americans were left to choose a candidate without access to all of the information available online.

"During this presidential election, many of our clients had to use our computers to watch video on YouTube about an interview that they missed on TV, or to hear a speech, or to see election results that they missed," said Tatyanna Wilkinson, program manager at Project T.E.C.H., which offers adult computer training and literacy classes in Los Angeles. "If they try to watch a YouTube video on dial-up and it takes 25 minutes to load, they just walk away frustrated."

The digital divide has left half a generation of young people without the same opportunities to innovate, invent and compete as their connected counterparts across the country and around the globe.

"Without Internet access, youth aren't able to access information for scholarships and grants. They're not able to access something as simple as a college application or resources to complete their school work," said Brian Mendez, director of Change Agent Productions, a group that teaches digital skills to youth in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Long Beach.

The United States currently lacks a national broadband strategy to address this digital divide, and the country has fallen to 22nd in the world in terms of high-speed Internet adoption.

The town hall meeting will include interactive, roundtable discussions focusing on ways to restore America's global Internet leadership. Some of the key questions participants will consider include:

  • How do we expand consumer choice and lower costs for Internet services?
  • How can the Internet be a catalyst for economic growth, jobs and prosperity?
  • How do we preserve the Internet's level playing field so everyone can access the content, applications and services of their choice?
  • What roles should be played by the federal government, local governments, private industry and everyday citizens to build a better Internet?

Read the town hall discussion guide:

The answers from the Los Angeles meeting will be combined with feedback from other meetings and a digital forum and delivered to the Obama administration and congressional leaders as a national guide to building a better Internet.

"The Washington lobbyists and technocrats will have plenty of chances to weigh in on Internet policy," Karr said. "But to truly achieve policy that reflects the needs of the nation, we must listen to the people who have been shut out of these debates for too long." is supported by more than 120 public interest organizations and industry groups, including: ACLU, American Library Association, BitTorrent,, Center for Rural Affairs, Children Now, Computer & Communications Industry Association, Consumer Electronics Association, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Credo Mobile,, EDUCAUSE,, Free Press, Future of Music Coalition, Google, Green For All, InterActiveCorp, Media Alliance, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National Organization for Women, Native Public Media, New America Foundation, One Economy, OneWebDay, Participatory Culture Foundation, Public Knowledge, Skype, Sunlight Foundation, TechNet, TechRepublican, United Church of Christ, U.S. PIRG, Vuze, Writers Guild of America-East, Writers Guild of America-West, and YouTube, amongst others.

For more information, visit

Free Press was created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media. We believe that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what's actually happening in their communities.

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