(House of Representatives - September 07, 2016)

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[Pages H5146-H5149]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 5537) to promote internet access in developing countries and 
update foreign policy toward the internet, and for other purposes, as 
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 5537

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Digital Global Access Policy 
     Act of 2016'' or the ``Digital GAP Act''.

     SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

       The purpose of this Act is to encourage the efforts of 
     developing countries to improve mobile and fixed access to 
     the internet in order to spur economic growth and job 
     creation, improve health, education, and financial services, 
     reduce poverty and gender inequality, mitigate disasters, 
     promote democracy and good governance, strengthen 
     cybersecurity, and update the Department of State's structure 
     to address cyberspace policy.

     SEC. 3. FINDINGS.

       Congress finds the following:
       (1) Since 2005, the number of internet users has more than 
     tripled from 1,000,000,000 to 3,200,000,000.
       (2) 4.2 billion people, 60 percent of the world's 
     population, remain offline and the growth rate of internet 
     access is slowing. An estimated 75 percent of the offline 
     population lives in just 20 countries and is largely rural, 
     female, elderly, illiterate, and low-income.
       (3) Studies suggest that across the developing world, women 
     are nearly 50 percent less likely to access the internet than 
     men living within the same communities, and that this digital 
     gender divide carries with it a great economic cost. 
     According to a study, ``Women and the Web'', bringing an 
     additional 600,000,000 women online would contribute 
     $13,000,000,000-$18,000,000,000 to annual GDP across 144 
     developing countries.
       (4) Without increased internet access, the developing world 
     risks falling behind.
       (5) Internet access in developing countries is hampered by 
     a lack of infrastructure and a poor regulatory environment 
     for investment.
       (6) Build-once policies and approaches are policies or 
     practices that minimize the number and scale of excavation 
     and construction activities when installing 
     telecommunications infrastructure in rights-of-way, thereby 
     lowering the installation costs for high-speed internet 
     networks and serve as a development best practice.


       Congress declares that it is the policy of the United 
     States to partner, consult, and coordinate with the 
     governments of foreign countries, international 
     organizations, regional economic communities, businesses, 
     civil society, and other stakeholders in a concerted effort 
       (1) promote first-time internet access to mobile or 
     broadband internet for at least 1.5 billion people in 
     developing countries by 2020 in both urban and rural areas;
       (2) promote internet deployment and related coordination, 
     capacity building, and build-once policies and approaches in 
     developing countries, including actions to encourage--
       (A) a build-once approach by standardizing the inclusion of 
     broadband conduit pipes which house fiber optic 
     communications cable that support broadband or wireless 
     facilities for broadband service as part of rights-of-way 
     projects, including sewers, power transmission facilities, 
     rail, pipelines, bridges, tunnels, and roads, that are 
     funded, co-funded, or partially financed by the United States 
     or any international organization that includes the United 
     States as a member, in consultation with telecommunications 
     providers, unless a cost-benefit analysis determines that the 
     cost of such approach outweighs the benefits;
       (B) national and local government agencies of developing 
     countries and donor governments and organizations to 
     coordinate road building, pipe laying, and major 
     infrastructure with the private sector so that, for example, 
     fiber optic cable could be laid below roads at the time such 
     roads are built; and
       (C) international organizations to increase their financial 
     support, including grants and loans, and technical assistance 
     to expand information and communications access and internet 
       (3) promote policy changes that encourage first-time 
     affordable access to the internet in developing countries, 
     including actions to encourage--
       (A) integration of universal and gender-equitable internet 
     access goals, to be informed by the collection of related 
     gender disaggregated data, and internet tools into national 
     development plans and United States Government country-level 
       (B) reforms of competition laws and spectrum allocation 
     processes that may impede the ability of companies to provide 
     internet services; and
       (C) efforts to improve procurement processes to help 
     attract and incentivize investment in internet 
       (4) promote the removal of tax and regulatory barriers to 
     internet access;
       (5) promote the use of the internet to increase economic 
     growth and trade, including--
       (A) policies and strategies to remove restrictions to e-
     commerce, cross-border information flows, and competitive 
     marketplaces; and
       (B) entrepreneurship and distance learning enabled by 
     access to technology;
       (6) promote the use of the internet to bolster democracy, 
     government accountability, transparency, and human rights, 
       (A) policies, initiatives, and investments, including the 
     development of national internet plans, that are consistent 
     with United States human rights goals, including freedom of 
     expression, religion, and association;
       (B) policies and initiatives aimed at promoting the 
     multistakeholder model of internet governance; and
       (C) policies and support programs, research, and 
     technologies that safeguard human rights and fundamental 
     freedoms online, and enable political organizing and 
     activism, free speech, and religious expression that are in 
     compliance with international human rights standards;
       (7) promote internet access and inclusion into internet 
     policymaking for women, people with disabilities, minorities, 
     low-income and marginalized groups, and underserved 
     populations; and
       (8) promote cybersecurity and data protection, including 
     international use of the National Institute of Standards and 
     Technology (NIST) Framework for Improving Critical 
     Infrastructure Cybersecurity that are industry-led, globally 
     recognized cybersecurity standards and best practices.


       (a) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that 
     the Secretary of State should redesignate an existing 
     Assistant Secretary position to be the Assistant Secretary 
     for Cyberspace to lead the Department of State's diplomatic 
     cyberspace policy generally, including for cybersecurity, 
     internet access, internet freedom, and to promote an open, 
     secure, and reliable information and communications 
     technology infrastructure.
       (b) Activities.--In recognition of the added value of 
     technical knowledge and expertise in the policymaking and 
     diplomatic channels, the Secretary of State should--
       (1) update existing training programs relevant to policy 
     discussions; and
       (2) promote the recruitment of candidates with technical 
     expertise into the Civil Service and the Foreign Service.
       (c) Offset.--To offset any costs incurred by the Department 
     of State to carry out the designation of an Assistant 
     Secretary for Cyberspace in accordance with subsection

[[Page H5147]]

     (a), the Secretary of State shall eliminate such positions 
     within the Department of State, unless otherwise authorized 
     or required by law, as the Secretary determines to be 
     necessary to fully offset such costs.
       (d) Rule of Construction.--The redesignation of the 
     Assistant Secretary position described in subsection (a) may 
     not be construed as increasing the number of Assistant 
     Secretary positions at the Department of State above the 
     current level of 24 as authorized in section 1(c)(1) of the 
     State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 

     SEC. 6. USAID.

       It is the sense of Congress that the Administrator of the 
     United States Agency for International Development should--
       (1) integrate efforts to expand internet access, develop 
     appropriate technologies, and enhance digital literacy into 
     the education, development, and economic growth programs of 
     the agency, where appropriate;
       (2) expand the utilization of information and 
     communications technologies in humanitarian aid and disaster 
     relief responses and United States operations involving 
     stabilization and security to improve donor coordination, 
     reduce duplication and waste, capture and share lessons 
     learned, and augment disaster preparedness and risk 
     mitigation strategies; and
       (3) establish and promote guidelines for the protection of 
     personal information of individuals served by humanitarian, 
     disaster, and development programs directly through the 
     United States Government, through contracts funded by the 
     United States Government and by international organizations.


       Section 3 of the Peace Corps Act (22 U.S.C. 2502) is 
     amended by--
       (1) redesignating subsection (h) as subsection (e); and
       (2) by adding at the end the following new subsections:
       ``(f) It is the sense of Congress that access to technology 
     can transform agriculture, community economic development, 
     education, environment, health, and youth development which 
     are the sectors in which Peace Corps currently develops 
     positions for Volunteers.
       ``(g) In giving attention to the programs, projects, 
     training, and other activities referred to in subsection (f), 
     the Peace Corps should develop positions for Volunteers that 
     are focused on leveraging technology for development, 
     education, and social and economic mobility.''.


       In pursuing the policy described in section 4, the 
     President should direct United States representatives to 
     appropriate international bodies to use the influence of the 
     United States, consistent with the broad development goals of 
     the United States, to advocate that each such body--
       (1) commit to increase efforts to promote gender-equitable 
     internet access, in partnership with stakeholders and 
     consistent with host countries' absorptive capacity;
       (2) enhance coordination with stakeholders in increasing 
     affordable and gender-equitable access to the internet;
       (3) integrate gender-equitable affordable internet access 
     into existing economic and business assessments, evaluations, 
     and indexes such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation 
     constraints analysis, the Doing Business Report, 
     International Monetary Fund Article IV assessments and 
     country reports, the Open Data Barometer, and the 
     Affordability Drivers Index;
       (4) standardize inclusion of broadband conduit--fiber optic 
     cables that support broadband or wireless facilities for 
     broadband service--as part of highway or highway-comparable 
     construction projects in developing countries, in 
     consultation with telecommunications providers, unless such 
     inclusion would create an undue burden, is not necessary 
     based on the availability of existing broadband 
     infrastructure, or a cost-benefit analysis determines that 
     the cost outweighs the benefits;
       (5) provide technical assistance to the regulatory 
     authorities in developing countries to remove unnecessary 
     barriers to investment in otherwise commercially viable 
     projects and strengthen weak regulations or develop new ones 
     to support market growth and development;
       (6) utilize clear, accountable, and metric-based targets, 
     including targets with gender-disaggregated metrics, to 
     measure the effectiveness of efforts to promote internet 
     access; and
       (7) promote and protect human rights online, such as the 
     freedoms of speech, assembly, association, religion, and 
     belief, through resolutions, public statements, projects, and 
     initiatives, and advocating that other member states of such 
     bodies are held accountable when major violations are 


       Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of 
     this Act, the President shall transmit to the Committee on 
     Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the 
     Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate plans to promote 
     partnerships by United States development agencies, including 
     the United States Agency for International Development and 
     the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as 
     international agencies funded by the United States Government 
     for partnership with stakeholders, that contain the following 
       (1) Methods for stakeholders to partner with such agencies 
     in order to provide internet access or internet 
     infrastructure in developing countries.
       (2) Methods of outreach to stakeholders to explore 
     partnership opportunities for expanding internet access or 
     internet infrastructure, including coordination with the 
     private sector, when financing roads and telecommunications 
       (3) Methods for early consultation with stakeholders 
     concerning projects in telecommunications and road 
     construction to provide internet access or internet 


       Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of 
     this Act, the President shall transmit to the Committee on 
     Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the 
     Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a report on 
     efforts to implement the policy specified in section 4 and a 
     discussion of the plans and existing efforts by the United 
     States Government in developing countries to accomplish the 
       (1) Develop a technical and regulatory road map for 
     promoting internet access in developing countries and a path 
     to implementing such road map.
       (2) Identify the regulatory barriers that may unduly impede 
     internet access, including regulation of wireline broadband 
     deployment or the infrastructure to augment wireless 
     broadband deployment.
       (3) Strengthen and support development of regulations that 
     incentivize market growth and sector development.
       (4) Encourage further public and private investment in 
     internet infrastructure, including broadband networks and 
       (5) Increase gender-equitable internet access and otherwise 
     encourage or support internet deployment, competition, and 
       (6) Improve the affordability of internet access.
       (7) Promote technology and cybersecurity capacity building 
     efforts and consult technical experts for advice regarding 
     options to accelerate the advancement of internet deployment, 
     adoption, and usage.
       (8) Promote internet freedom globally and include civil 
     society and the private sector in the formulation of 
     policies, projects, and advocacy efforts to protect human 
     rights online.
       (9) Promote and strengthen the multistakeholder model of 
     internet governance and actively participate in 
     multistakeholder international fora, such as the Internet 
     Governance Forum.


       The President should include in the next White House 
     Cyberspace Strategy information relating to the following:
       (1) Methods to promote internet access in developing 
       (2) Methods to globally promote cybersecurity policy 
     consistent with the National Institute of Standards and 
     Technology (NIST) Framework for Improving Critical 
     Infrastructure Cybersecurity.
       (3) Methods to promote global internet freedom principles, 
     such as the freedoms of expression, assembly, association, 
     and religion, while combating efforts to impose restrictions 
     on such freedoms.


       In this Act--
       (1) Build once policies and approaches.--The term ``build 
     once policies and approaches'' means policies or practices 
     that minimize the number and scale of excavation and 
     construction activities when installing telecommunications 
     infrastructure in rights-of-way.
       (2) Cyberspace.--The term ``cyberspace'' means the 
     interdependent network of information technology 
     infrastructures, and includes the internet, 
     telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded 
     processors and controllers in critical industries, and 
     includes the virtual environment of information and 
     interactions between people.
       (3) Stakeholders.--The term ``stakeholders'' means the 
     private sector, the public sector, cooperatives, civil 
     society, the technical community that develops internet 
     technologies, standards, implementation, operations, and 
     applications, and other groups that are working to increase 
     internet access or are impacted by the lack of internet 
     access in their communities.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Royce) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California.

                              {time}  1730

                             General Leave

  Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to 
include extraneous material in the Record.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from California?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

[[Page H5148]]

  Mr. Speaker, as the author of this measure, I want to particularly 
recognize the invaluable contributions of the professional staff. I 
mentioned Jessica Kelch, but there is another staff member here who has 
played an outsized role to help shape the work of this committee, and 
not just on the Digital GAP Act, which is before us, but Nilmini Rubin 
has played a critical role in energy, in trade, in development 
legislation that we have passed out of the committee, and so I wanted 
to recognize her for that contribution.
  I also want to focus the attention of the Members on the fact that 
more than 60 percent of the world's population still lacks access to 
the Internet. That is 3 billion people left out of one of the largest 
technological transformations of our time, leaving them lagging on 
economic growth, lagging on health, lagging in terms of potential for 
  The dearth of global Internet access negatively impacts us here at 
home, too. Sixty percent of the world's population can't buy American 
goods online, if you think about it. They are shut out of e-commerce. 
They are limited in their ability to connect with others through social 
  So the Digital Global Access Policy Act calls on the administration 
to integrate into U.S. development efforts a ``build-once'' policy when 
expanding Internet access, and this is common sense.
  If a U.S. development project supports the construction of a rural 
road, let's invite the private sector to lay down cable before our 
government helps pay to pour the concrete. We are maximizing U.S. 
taxpayer dollar assistance; we are providing more support to the 
disadvantaged community; we are making it easier for business to invest 
if we change our policies to do this.
  This bill complements existing efforts to promote partnerships with 
the private sector to expand Internet access through the Global Connect 
  One of the many letters of support we received was from NetHope, 
which outlined why the build-once approach in the Digital GAP Act is so 
important. As NetHope's letter explained, years ago, a $100 million 
road construction project in Liberia failed to include the laying of 
fiber-optic lines as a part of the project. At the time, the cost of 
laying this cable would have been negligible. It would have been maybe 
1 percent of the total investment. It would have been--I don't know--
probably not even a million.
  However, you know, if you look back, this is one example of many that 
we pulled out of the file where the donors chose not to include the 
Internet infrastructure in the project; and so, as a result, when you 
go to Liberia, as I have, there is poor Internet access, a fact that 
hampered Ebola response efforts as community health centers struggled 
to coordinate their efforts.
  If that Internet access were in place, it would have helped the U.S. 
and public health officials safely track the spread of Ebola. It could 
have reduced the disease's spread. It could have saved lives.
  As NetHope explained, there is now a new project under consideration 
to do that same connectivity work that would have cost--would have been 
negligible if it had been laid at the time that the road was put in. 
However, since it is being considered after the fact, it will now cost 
tens of millions of dollars if it is done, and it will take years and 
years to complete.
  The build-once approach is smart economics. It is smart development. 
We simply get more bang for our buck when we coordinate these types of 
infrastructure investments with the private sector. So I think the case 
is compelling for this.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill, and I yield 
myself such time as I may consume.
  I, first of all, want to thank our chairman, Ed Royce, from 
California. He has worked very, very hard on this bill for a long, long 
time, so I am very pleased to support this bill that he has introduced 
to help expand access to the Internet around the world. I know how 
strongly he feels about it. We all share his goal, but he was the 
impetus, obviously, for this bill, and this is really a good bill.
  Mr. Speaker, a generation ago, few could have envisioned the way the 
Internet would open up new gateways for information, connect people 
around the world, and change the global economy.
  Today, a classroom with broadband access gives students a window to 
the rest of the world, allowing them to build relationships face-to-
face with people thousands and thousands of miles away. A relief worker 
with a smartphone can relay information in an instant about where help 
and resources are needed to deal with a crisis. A farmer with a laptop 
can make sure his or her produce is fetching a fair price on the global 
market. A journalist in a closed society who can get online can shine a 
light on abuses and corruption.
  And while we know this tool can be used for harm, such as the way 
ISIS uses social media to recruit fighters and spread propaganda, we 
also know that, in the right hands, the Internet expands opportunity, 
drives growth, and makes people's lives fuller and more productive. The 
ripple effects help strengthen communities and countries.
  But like so many resources around the world, access to the Internet 
often depends on where you live and what you have and if you can afford 
it. Living in a poor community or a rural area, or even being a woman 
in some places, may make it harder to take advantage of the Internet.
  Roughly 60 percent of the world's population is not able to use this 
tool, and the growth rate of Internet access is slowing down. Three-
quarters of those who are offline live in just 20 countries. Think of 
what a difference it would make if these populations had access to a 
resource so many of us take for granted. This bill aims to close that 
  Chairman Royce's legislation calls on the administration to ramp up 
efforts around the world to expand access to the Internet. It 
encourages the State Department, USAID, and the Peace Corps to focus on 
Internet access as a diplomatic and developmental priority; and it 
states clearly, expanding Internet access, especially in the developing 
world, is an American foreign policy priority.
  I applaud Chairman Royce for doing this, and I am glad to support 
this measure.
  I want to also thank two staff persons for their hard work: Nilmini 
Rubin on the majority's staff, and Janice Kaguyutan on our side. They 
both worked very, very hard, and I think they deserve special mention.
  So I urge all my colleagues to support this very important bill. I, 
again, commend Chairman Royce for working so hard on it.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to close.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  As I said before, the way the Internet has changed the world would 
have been hard to believe just a few decades ago. It would also have 
been hard to believe that we would be thinking of the Internet as a 
foreign policy priority, but we can and we should.
  Today, we know that the Internet has driven so much of the 
interconnectedness that we now see across the global landscape, so it 
is important that our foreign policy keep up with these changes. We 
want to see this tool used in a positive way by as many people as 
possible, while guarding against abuses or exploitation by those who 
mean to harm us.
  This bill helps us move in the right direction. Again, I am grateful 
to the chairman for bringing it forward. I am glad to support it. I 
urge my colleagues to do the same.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I would like to thank the cosponsors of the Digital GAP Act who 
helped me with this legislation, and the first among them is Ranking 
Member Eliot Engel, and then also Cathy McMorris Rodgers, 
Representative Grace Meng, and Chairman McCaul for their collaboration 
on this bill.
  The Digital GAP Act would increase Internet access with a relatively 
minor communications change. It would require that the United States-
supported infrastructure projects are made transparent so that the 
private sector can

[[Page H5149]]

coordinate their investments in Internet infrastructure. This is a 
commonsense approach that we should implement now.
  The Digital GAP Act also expresses the sense of Congress that the 
State Department should elevate and reform its efforts to address 
cyberspace policy internationally. As technological policy issues 
multiply and as they become more complex, it is important to identify 
clear lines of responsibility at the State Department so that problems 
do not fall between the cracks of the many different offices that touch 
on these issues now. Cybersecurity, Internet freedom, and Internet 
access are now core parts of our national security agenda and need to 
be treated as such by the State Department.
  Lastly, I will simply close by again recognizing the work of Nilmini 
Rubin on this legislation. She has been with the committee for over 3 
years. She has done outstanding work on technology and trade and other 
issues promoting development worldwide. Nilmini will be leaving us and 
will be greatly missed, but she will be continuing to do impressive and 
important things, improving lives overseas and improving the welfare of 
  Thank you, Nilmini.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Hill). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce) that the House 
suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 5537, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.