Summary of the Digital Equity Act of 2019
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
The Problem: Too many Americans lack the skills and technology needed to effectively use the internet and the tools and services it has to offer.
Increasingly, Americans require a broadband internet connection to live, work, and interact. Yet far too many individuals, many of whom are members of historically overlooked and underserved communities, lack the skills, technologies, and supports needed to take advantage of the opportunities made available by a reliable broadband connection.1 Absent help, they are at risk of being left behind.
Expanding access to broadband is necessary but is far from sufficient. The Federal Government must work towards ensuring “all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy”—a principle called “digital equity.”2
The Solution: The Digital Equity Act of 2019
The Digital Equity Act of 2019 supports a diverse array of digital equity projects at the state and local level to help close the digital divide. These projects may range from providing digital literacy and digital skills education to low-income populations, improving the online accessibility of social services for individuals with disabilities, to more accurately mapping broadband access and adoption in rural communities.
The Digital Equity Act of 2019 establishes two grant programs to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to promote digital equity nationwide:
1 National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (2018, June 06). Digital Nation Data Explorer. Retrieved January 14, 2019, from (https://www.ntia.doc.gov/data/digital-nation-data-explorer#sel=internetUser&demo=&pc=prop&disp=chart)
2 National Digital Inclusion Alliance: Definitions. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from https://www.digitalinclusion.org/definitions/