Sen. Markey Introduces DIGITAL AGE Act

Would promote global internet access, infrastructure
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Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has introduced a bill to promote worldwide access to the World Wide Web.

The Driving Innovation and Growth in Internet Technology and Launching Universal Access to the Global Economy (DIGITAL AGE) Act of 2016 is targeted at the developing nations where access trails far behind, says Markey, citing statistics showing that while 80% of the households in the developed world have access to the internet, only 34% of those in developing countries do and only 7% in the least developed.

Markey says the bill "expands U.S. government support for private sector investors, strengthens the State Department’s Global Connect Initiative, and affirms expanding internet access as a programmatic focus for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)."

Markey is looking to encourage infrastructure investment—including infrastructure sharing and spectrum re-use—as well as ensure transparent spectrum allocation, encourage integrating internet backbone into infrastructure projects funded by the World Bank, IMF, USAID and others, make computers and other internet access devices more affordable, and promote public access facilities.

The State Department has already planted a flag on global connectivity. Back in April, it launched "Global Connect," an effort to bring 1.5 billion more people online by 2020. 

"Bridging the global digital divide can help promote prosperity, democracy, educational opportunity and better health," said Markey.

Under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, global broadband access and network neutrality were established as foreign policy goals.

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