WASHINGTON — The ONE Campaign celebrated the introduction of H.R. 5537, the Digital Global Access Policy Act of 2016 yesterday. The bipartisan legislation was introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and the Committee’s Ranking Member, Eliot Engel (D-NY) and co-sponsored by House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY). The bill urges the United States to promote internet access in developing countries with an eye toward spurring economic growth, promoting democracy, improving health and education, and reducing gender inequality.a
Tom Hart, ONE’s Executive Director for North America, said:
“We are encouraged by the introduction of the Digital Global Access Policy Act. It is of the utmost importance that Congress look at connectivity as part of its development efforts as internet access is a catalyst for creating a world of greater freedom, fairness and dignity for everyone, everywhere. We congratulate Chairman Royce and Ranking member Engel for taking this important step.”
ONE was one of several groups and individuals that signed The Connectivity Declaration in September 2015. That declaration called for internet access for all as part of the implementation of the Global Goals, a global development blueprint aimed at solving the most pressing social and economic challenges of our time. In addition to ONE, signers included Mark Zuckerberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, Bono, Mo Ibrahim, Charlize Theron, Richard Branson, Jimmy Wales, Arianna Huffington, Ushahidi, action/2015, and Save the Children.
In keeping with those goals, the Digital Global Access Policy Act will promote first-time internet access for at least 1.5 billion people in developing countries by 2020 and aims to standardize the inclusion of internet infrastructure in general infrastructure projects. The bill will encourage the removal of tax and regulatory barriers to connectivity, restrictions on e-commerce, and the flow of cross-border information while promoting competitive marketplaces, democracy, transparency, and human rights.