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The Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act

US House Committee on Foreign Affairs

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Since Global Connect’s launch only nine months ago, U.S. development and financing agencies have surpassed the $1 billion mark in financing and investment for global ICT and connectivity projects, bringing Internet access to millions of people around the world.

Background:

In our increasingly connected world, internet access is a tremendous driver of economic and social improvement. However, 60% of the world’s population remains offline: a population largely concentrated in developing countries and composed of people who are low-income, female, illiterate, and rural. Internet access in developing countries is hampered by a lack of infrastructure and a poor regulatory environment for investment. As a result, the developing world runs the risk of falling further behind.

The Digital GAP Act is designed to spur internet access in the developing world. It directs the U.S. government to effectively promote internet access in order to drive economic growth, improve health and education, promote democracy and reduce gender inequality in developing countries.

This bill promotes:

  • first-time internet access for at least 1.5 billion people in developing countries by 2020
  • partnership with the private sector to increase internet access
  • the standardized inclusion of internet infrastructure in general infrastructure projects
  • the removal of tax and regulatory barriers to internet access
  • the use of the internet to increase economic growth and trade, such as through the removal of restrictions on e-commerce, cross-border information flows, and competitive marketplaces
  • the use of the internet to bolster democracy, transparency, and human rights, through policies and programs that uphold the freedom of speech and expression online

The Digital GAP Act leverages international support by directing the Administration to advocate that international bodies such as the United Nations and the World Bank commit to increase efforts to promote gender-equitable affordable internet access in the developing world, as well as integrate internet access into existing economic and business assessments.  The bill also encourages USAID and the Peace Corps to employ technology for more effective humanitarian aid and development programs.

Speakers:

  • Nilmini Rubin, Senior Advisor, US House of Representatives
  • Jonathan Metzger, Chief of Party, Global Broadband and Innovations Alliance, NetHope
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