May 19, 2020
Bridging the Digital Divide Without Hurting Innovation
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the advantages of increased internet connectivity, but the pandemic has also raised concerns about the digital divide between those with internet access and those without it. Policymakers should recognize both how the U.S. light-touch regulatory approach has allowed robust and innovative internet infrastructure and the myriad reasons why individuals may not be connected to the internet, writes AAF’s Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Jennifer Huddleston. Any policies seeking to bridge the digital divide should build on the United States’ current policy approach, she contends.
Decades of technology policy allowed the development of an innovative and robust form of internet connectivity that has been able to withstand unprecedented increased demands during the pandemic. The benefits of increased internet connectivity have become clearer than ever to policymakers and many Americans. Policymakers are right to be concerned about those lacking connectivity, but they should be careful to address the specific problems behind these gaps and continue to allow multi-faceted and innovative ways of bridging the digital divide.