I. Strive for Equity Beyond Just Digital

Congress defines digital equity as “the condition in which individuals and communities have the information technology capacity that is needed for full participation in the society and economy of the United States.” The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act states that “achieving digital equity is a matter of social and economic justice and is worth pursuing.” Without digital equity, it is increasingly difficult to ensure the economic, political, and social rights and opportunities everyone deserves.

Although Congress finds that the benefits of broadband should be broadly enjoyed by all, the digital divide disproportionately affects communities of color, lower-income areas, rural areas, people with disabilities and language barriers, seniors, and veterans, among others. These barriers are even more pronounced for people and communities who represent multiple such populations. A call for equity recognizes that due to historical actions, we do not all start from the same place or on a level playing field, and requires us to acknowledge and make adjustments to correct for these imbalances. The goal is a just and equitable society, where everyone is able to meet their basic needs, exercise their agency, and access a range of opportunities.

Digital equity efforts aim to address these imbalances by connecting everyone, especially those groups who have been disproportionately impacted by the digital divide, in order to facilitate equitable access to essential public services, including health care and education, and to make the United States more economically competitive.

With this in mind, we offer the following principles:

  1. Digital equity is equity and cannot stand outside the broader work of ensuring that everyone has opportunities based on their needs. Without digital equity, communities will continue to face significant barriers in accessing opportunities and vital resources, thereby perpetuating existing inequalities and further widening the digital divide. Digital visions should articulate a commitment to remove barriers and empower the most vulnerable in our communities.
  2. Envision a state transformed by digital equity. Successful digital equity efforts result in healthier, more robust communities and more opportunity for all. Digital equity visions should illustrate how ubiquitous, affordable connectivity to reliable, high-speed broadband will benefit communities through increased access to health care, education and job training, economic growth, and civic participation.