July 17 , 2009
Religious groups launch bid to expand Internet access
WASHINGTON (RNS) An interfaith coalition of groups concerned about equal access to the Internet launched a campaign Tuesday (July 14) to expand high-speed Internet access in rural and poor communities.
The campaign, called "Bring Betty Broadband," uses a short video with a cartoon character who struggles to use her computer without high-speed Internet access. It is featured on a new Web site, www.BringBettyBroadband.org, that encourages viewers to contact the Department of Commerce about improving "digital inclusion" in communities currently without high-speed Internet options.
"It's designed to ensure that everybody who doesn't have high-speed Internet is able to get it," said Cheryl Leanza, policy director of the United Church of Christ's media justice advocacy organization.
"The two most important constituencies that don't have high-speed Internet are rural communities and poor communities with less resources, often in urban areas."
The campaign is an effort of "So We Might See," a coalition that includes the National Council of Churches, the Islamic Society of North America and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Those groups will contact members about spreading word of the campaign through Facebook, action alerts, and links to the new Web site.
"It's not just a luxury at this point," said Leanza. "So much of our daily civic life is taking place on the Internet and using dial-up Internet is just not acceptable anymore."
The coalition also plans to work on other "media justice" issues, such as violence in the media.
-- Adelle M. Banks