Broadband has brought a new era of redlining, digital equity advocates say. (Image by Compare Fibre on Unsplash)

In an effort to continue taking a push for broadband access that began locally to the national agenda, a group of Baltimore leaders and digital equity advocates are backing a new bill in Congress that would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate digital redlining.

The Anti-Digital Redlining Act of 2021, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn, NY), would prohibit digital redlining. It’s a term that draws a line between the Baltimore-pioneered discriminatory real estate practices that fueled segregation in the early 20th century and the digital divide that leaves 40% of Baltimoreans without internet access, and has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Part of what this moment and this racial reckoning across the country represents is a need for us to be honest about where we are and how we got here,” said Baltimore City 1st District City Councilman Zeke Cohen, who collaborated with Clarke on the bill, in an interview. “We cannot whitewash away the reasons why cities, towns farms, tribal lands across the country that are majority-minority have worse internet access than predominantly white areas.”


Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.