Today Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee and former Chairman of the Telecommunications Subcommittee, current Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and subcommittee member Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) joined six of their colleagues today in introducing a resolution, H. Res. 81, designating March 21 as National Digital Literacy Day.
The United States has taken great strides during the last two decades to provide near-universal access to mobile broadband -- from 15 percent in 1996 to 98 percent today. Through the Markey-authored E-rate program, which has provided more than $30 billion nationwide since the program began ($334 million in Massachusetts alone), nearly every school and library in the nation is now connected to the Internet.
Yet even with these achievements, 100 million Americans today do not have broadband in their homes, and one in five adults possess no digital literacy skills. This resolution calls on both the public and private sectors to work to achieve universal broadband adoption and improve digital literacy skills of all Americans.
"Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked to close the digital divide and bring the promise and opportunities of the Internet to all Americans," said Rep. Markey. "The original E-Rate legislation I authored has linked up nearly all schools and libraries to the Web. Now is the time to expand connections at home and ensure that all Americans -- both young and old -- have the digital skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy."
"I am pleased to join my colleague, Congressman Markey, in introducing the Resolution to establish March 21st as Digital Literacy Day. Having access to a computer is not enough in today's digital economy. Digital literacy is critical to ensuring that all Americans are able to use the Internet in an efficient and effective manner," said Rep. Matsui. "As technology continues to evolve, digital literacy only becomes more important. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on ways to promote digital literacy in this country."
"We applaud Congressman Markey for his leadership in the effort to close the digital divide both here in Massachusetts and across the United States," said Massachusetts Broadband Institute Director Judith Dumont. "We look forward to celebrating Digital Literacy Day and renewing our national commitment to ensuring all Americans have the access and the skills needed to participate in the digital economy."
Rep. Markey was the House Author of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, legislation that established the E-rate and spurred a dramatic increase in broadband access in the United States. He was also the author of the requirement in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that required the Federal Communications Commission to develop a National Broadband Plan.