Kabataan Partylist lauds the passage of an act for free Public Wi-fi in the House today.
House Bill 5225, “An Act Mandating the Provision of Free Public Wi-fi Internet Access in Public Areas,” has been approved by the 17th Congress in third and final reading, during the regular session today, May 2.
HB 5225 mandates the government, including local government units (LGUs) and government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), to install broadband hotspots in public areas that will provide a stable and reliable wireless Internet connection.
Among the areas to be provided wi-fi are local and national government offices, public elementary and secondary schools, and state universities and colleges (SUCs), and other public places such as railway stations and public transportation terminals.
Other provisions include prohibition of administrators and managers of public broadband hotspots from collecting user data from people who will connect to the public Wi-Fi network.
“This is a step towards the realization of a #BetterInternet,” said Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, one of the principal authors of the bill.
“We expect to take further steps towards democratizing access to the internet, propel the economy, and consequently increase access to information, once this is signed into law. This will help in fighting misinformation and public manipulation,” Elago said.
“In addition, free public wifi access involves improving and transforming the physical infrastructure of our network systems,” Elago added.
The solon argues, however, that there is more to be done towards the realization of wide access to the internet.
“For one, telco networks should be investigated for the slow and erratic internet connection in the country, including the pricing of services and goods, which have been the key factors of the lackluster internet services today,” Elago said.
“As a government-funded service, this should also not translate to additional financial burdens to the people, such as internet fees and related other school fees (OSFs) in SUCs,” Elago added.
“The fight goes on for the Filipino youth and people for digital services, which for this generation has great necessity and thus should be treated as a right,” Elago concluded.
Free public wi-fi has been a part of Kabataan Partylist’s Internet agenda since 2013. The Internet agenda included (1) Junking the Cybercrime Prevention Law of 2012, (2) Upholding freedom of expression and association on the Internet, (3) Universal access to the Internet, (4) Improvement of quality of connection, and (5) Protection of Internet privacy. ###