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Internet Access is a Human Right – UNITED NATIONS

The House of Representatives aims to pass on second reading on March 15 before adjournment the proposed “Free Public Wi-Fi Act” which mandates the government to install broadband hotspots in public areas that will provide a stable and reliable wireless internet connection at all times.

In a hearing of the committee last March 8, House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte First District Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said that at the most, the House will pass the “Free Public Wi-Fi Act” on second reading by March 15, and then on third and final reading when Congress resumes session in May.

Fariñas said the congressional bicameral leadership composed of the Senate President, House Speaker, Majority Leaders and Minority Leaders of both chambers had a meeting twice a month and identified the “Free Public Wi-Fi Act” as among its priority measures.

“In fact this will be approved by both houses,” assured Fariñas.

Based on reports, the counterpart bill in the Senate, Senate Bill 1277 or the “Free Internet Access in Public Places Act” is expected to be approved on third reading this week.

The committee approved the unnumbered substitute bill and committee report during its March 8 hearing.

Rep. Ann Hofer, a committee vice chairperson, said since House Bill 1957 authored by Rep. Gus Tambunting is the same version which was passed by the committee on third reading during the 16th Congress, she moved for its approval in consolidation with HBs 515, 616, 660, 1954, 2836, 3055 and 3250, which provide for free wi-fi internet access in all government offices, state universities and colleges (SUCs), and public areas nationwide authored respectively, by Reps. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Geraldine Roman, Sarah Jane Elago, Vilma Santos-Recto, Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr., Victor Yap, and Marlyn Primicias-Agabas

Rep. Victor Yap expressed confidence about the bill’s passage on second reading on March 15 especially since this is in the priority agenda of the House and Senate. He said the bill will address the country’s problem of interconnectivity by providing wireless access points in all major public places through broadband hotspots which shall be installed through the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) or private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in some cases.

Yap said no less than the United Nations has classified internet access as a human right.

“I agree with the UN that it is one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century for increasing transparency in the conduct of the powerful, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in building democratic societies”, said Yap.

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