Closing the Digital Divide, Broadband Mapping, and Digital Privacy Among Topics Discussed
ASPEN—At the Technology Policy Institute’s annual Aspen Forum, the premier tech policy conference in the U.S., The Honorable Alan Davidson, Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), joined the Washington Post’s Cristiano Lima for a fireside keynote on a wide range of topics in tech and telecom policy.
Lima and Davidson discussed the historic subsidies allocated for broadband deployment, the challenges of mapping where service is and isn’t available, digital privacy and the prospects for federal legislation, and more.
Here are some key quotes from Davidson from the discussion:
“[I]f we do it right, this is like generations before us, they brought electricity or water to all of America, right? They built the interstate highway system. This is actually our generation’s infrastructure moment. This is our generation’s thing we need to do to connect everybody with what they need to succeed in the modern economy. And I think it will take time, but we will look back on this moment and say, this was the moment that we did it.”
“[A]ffordability is a huge element of this. It’s part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, I should say, a connection to somebody’s family’s home doesn’t do them a lot of good if they can’t afford the price to get online. … And so we’ve got a number of provisions as part of what we’re implementing to try to do what we can around affordability. We’re gonna require states to have a low-cost option. So providers who get federal money will need to have a low cost option available for lower income Americans. Affordability is a major factor in how states do their grant making.”
“We are long overdue in having a national, a strong national privacy law … as somebody who’s been in this space for a long time, it is surprising that we do not have it and people need it. And it also is not great for our credibility internationally. There’s a lot of different reasons why we need to do this, but it’s mostly about people and making sure that they have the protections that they ought to have online. And I’d say I feel it quite a bit when I go think about the fact that we’re going to be bringing high-speed internet to millions more people in the coming years and making sure that they know how to protect their privacy and security online is going to be important.”
You can read a full transcript of the fireside chat here and see the full video here. In addition, see below a live illustration created during the panel by Karina Branson, a graphic recorder and proprietor of ConverSketch. Her sketches of every session are part of what makes the Aspen Forum such a unique experience for attendees.
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