Like many cities around the country, San Francisco is considering an investment in community broadband infrastructure: high-speed fiber that would make Internet access cheaper and better for city residents. Community broadband can help alleviate a number of issues [eff.org] with Internet access that we see all over America today. Many Americans have no choice of provider for high-speed Internet [fcc.gov], Congress eliminated user privacy protections [washingtonpost.com] in 2017, and the FCC decided to roll back net neutrality protections in December [eff.org].
This week, San Francisco published the recommendations of a group of experts, including EFF's Kit Walsh, regarding how to protect the privacy and speech of those using community broadband.
This week, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Municipal Fiber [sfmunifiber.org] released its third report [wordpress.com], which tackles competition, security, privacy, net neutrality, and more. It recommends San Francisco's community broadband require net neutrality and privacy protections. Any ISP looking to use the city's infrastructure would have to adhere to certain standards. The model of community broadband that EFF favors is sometimes called "dark fiber" or "open access." In this model, the government invests in fiber infrastructure, then opens it up for private companies to compete as your ISP. This means the big incumbent ISPs can no longer block new competitors from offering you Internet service. San Francisco is pursuing the "open access" option, and is quite far along in its process.