The FCC’s newest commissioner, Anna Gomez, talks about artificial intelligence and internet affordability

At its first Federal Communications Commission meeting since winning Senate confirmation, it became clear that Anna Gomez would be the instigator of change.

Gomez, Biden’s Democrat nominee and the first Latina-American confirmed to the position in more than 20 years, took her place at the podium in the fall, almost immediately casting the deciding vote that ultimately allowed the agency to restore net neutrality rules and deliver public remarks in English and Spanish .

Tech Brew recently sat down with Gomez in her office at the FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C., to talk about her vision for the role and some of the biggest challenges facing the tech sector today: Internet affordability and the rise of artificial intelligence.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

I’d like to hear a little bit about the unique perspective that I think you bring to the committee. How to use space to make a difference?

I have worked at the FCC, NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration), the Hill, the White House, and the Department of State. All of this gives me the background to understand the issues in front of me really, really, really well… I have a lot of relationships that I’ve already developed with regulators around the world because of the time he spent at the Department of State leading preparations for World Radiocommunication Conference. And now I still use it.

How do you describe the importance of international internet governance and leadership and the United States playing a leadership role in it?

We need to make sure that we are present, meeting with our counterparts in other countries, making sure that U.S. positions are well represented, and that we are there to enable outcomes that benefit U.S. industry and global competitiveness…Making sure that we have secured networks, for example, requires us to be constantly present on international forums that discuss such issues. We cannot be isolationists; we must cooperate and enjoy trust with our international partners.

Let’s move on to the important national issue that’s on everyone’s mind: the expiration of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). What’s next for broadband affordability and where are we heading?

The AKP program has been, by far, the most effective Internet accessibility program we have ever implemented. We had 23 million households eligible and registered for the service. So the loss of the program is very disturbing to me. I think it threatens the affordability of many of these households. They will either raise prices or lose the service altogether. We’ll see in the coming months how this works.

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I have seen that there are many providers that have committed to maintaining, at least until the end of this year, some of these low-cost programs. This makes me hopeful that Congress will actually take action to re-fund the program.

I was very encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral working group on universal service (fund) and the work it is doing that would both fund the ACP and make it part of the USF and (create) a more sustainable universal service fund for the future.

Another thing I think everyone is thinking about is the rise of artificial intelligence, especially in an election year. What can we expect on the AI ​​front from the FCC?

Artificial intelligence can do a lot of good. But it can also be used for evil purposes. And this is disturbing. The FCC recently moved very quickly to clarify that the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act prohibits the use of artificial intelligence in robocalls and robocalls without, I believe, the consumer’s consent – which was important because, as you know, we’re getting close to an election and right now we saw an actor use artificial intelligence to recreate President Biden’s voice and tell primary voters not to vote and just wait until the (general) election.

The Commission has just taken action, under a notice of alleged liability, against an actor and a telecommunications company that failed to follow all the procedures it should have followed to identify these calls as something to be concerned about.

Now, (FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel) has also sent out a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require disclosure of information about political ads using artificial intelligence. And it’s still in circulation. But I think it’s about consumers knowing when they’re looking at something that’s been generated by AI. So I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of this announcement… I think it’s an important transparency initiative.