Kabataan party-list representative Raymond Palatino has filed House Bill No. 4271 or the â€œFree Public Wi-Fi Actâ€, which seeks to provide free Wi-Fi access in government institutions to widen the space for the â€œpeopleâ€™s participation in clean governance and democracy.â€
â€œThe various corruption cases hurled at government officials affirm once again the need to revitalize the peopleâ€™s democratic participation in clean governance and politics. We from the government have to recognize that the Internet is one important mechanism in encouraging that participation,â€ Palatino said in a statement.
â€œNotwithstanding the issue of the mass accessibility and availability of personal electronic devices, one way to foster this democratic participation is by providing the people access to the Internet in our government buildings and public establishments,â€ he said.
Palatino also said that providing free Wi-Fi in government institutions will also encourage people to visit and consider these institutions as public spaces where they can assemble and converge for discussions, engage government officials on various issues, and strengthen democratic processes.
â€œOne cannot deny that maximizing information technology shall be assistive in making more people, especially the youth, well-informed and active in matters concerning the nation,â€ Palatino said.
â€œAs a form of public service, providing free Wi-Fi shall bring the benefits of the Internet closer to the people,â€ he added.
Once the bill is passed, wireless Internet connection shall be installed and made available in buildings of all government-related offices including regional and satellite offices, municipal halls, provincial capitols, state universities and colleges, public parks and plazas, public hospitals and public transportation terminals such as airports and bus stations.
The bill also stipulates that no restrictions in the form of passwords and other similar mechanisms, and that no fee in whatever amount shall be imposed with regard to access to the free public Wi-Fi network.