Posted August 15th, 2012 by seanm
California Assembly to vote Thursday on
SB 1161 - an industry bill that would harm consumers and threaten universal access to open internet
A controversial industry lobbying group called ALEC is behind SB 1161 in California - a bill designed to hinder public oversight of the telecommunications industry by the State, including experts at the Public Utilities Commission, and to tie the hands of local jurisdictions that represent public, education and government interests.
YouTube hosts a popular animation about ALEC's role in the development of legislation starting in 1975 to move their agenda in Congress and State Legislatures all over the country.
ALEC's Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Legislative_Exchange_Council
And the Center for Media Democracy hosts an ALEC Exposed website here --
Opposition to SB 1161 by consumer advocates and dozens of public interest advocacy groups across California is focusing on the loss of State regulation and preemption of local jurisdictions' ability to stand up to telecommunication utilities such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and other big media corporations who are using the public rights of way to construct privately operated networks similar to public utilities.
Community broadband and media access advocates are concerned that SB 1161 will harm local efforts to develop community broadband deployment and sustainable adoption for least served people and places.
Access Humboldt has been active in Humboldt County and adjacent areas in developing community-based networks and services for "community anchor institutions" that include schools, libraries, public health, public safety, public media and other community gathering places.
Humboldt County's Board of Supervisors came out in unanimous opposition to SB 1161 on May 1, 2012.
Formal opposition letters from Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, as adopted:
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors' opposition letter of April 11, 2012:
Similar opposition has been expressed by other County and City jurisdictions and many others - a current list of opponents is attached below.
Following the progress of SB 1161, Sean McLaughlin, executive director of Access Humboldt and a Knight Media Policy Fellow with New America Foundation said today, "SB 1161 authors' amendments to date only accommodate legacy protections and protect outdated regulations. As currently proposed, SB 1161
fails to address going forward concerns regarding the most important policy goal: universal access to open internet." He added, "This ALEC sponsored bill, tying the hands of State and local governments, looks like an industry give away at the expense of consumers - ultimately damaging public, education, and local community interests."
Dan Larkin, Emergency Service Coordinator for Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office OES offered his concerns to the California Assembly Committee on Appropriations in an e-mail dated June 22, 2012:
"From an emergency management perspective, I am concerned that SB 1161 (IP-enabled
services) may create significant negative fiscal impacts that could hinder efforts to deploy and
develop local communication networks in Humboldt County. Those networks support existing,
as well as next generation, communication services including 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering
Point services. Local public safety entities in Humboldt County have worked hard in recent
years to use both locally-generated and grant funding to improve all manner of communications
pathways. Due to the very rough terrain in this mountainous region and the high cost of
communications infrastructure, area entities at all levels are forced to work together to solve
communications issues. As a result, many of those communications projects are coordinated
efforts between local, state, and federal entities in the North Coastal Area contiguous counties,
and they have significantly improved the area’s overall communications network’s capabilities.
This Bill could adversely impact those proactive coordinated efforts.
SB 1161 could restrict our ability to leverage public investments of local agencies and
community based organizations. It prohibits local jurisdictions and the CPUC from developing
or implementing new rules for public safety networks and related services. By prohibiting or
delaying our ability to act, SB 1161 could cost California's public safety agencies the opportunity
to benefit from significant federal programs, such as the nationwide public safety broadband
network (FirstNet) currently under development. Currently, federal grant programs significantly
assist by providing the funding needed to enable Humboldt County public safety entities raise
local match funding to help themselves fix local area communications problems. That funding
support pathway could be in jeopardy with passage of this Bill."
For more information, contact: Sean McLaughlin, email@example.com