Using the Tech Principles to Inform the FCC’s Digital Literacy Training Funding Program

Although the ATJ Technology Principles were designed around the needs and goals of the justice system, they have application in all situations where technology is used to empower people. The FCC recently released a proposed rule which included, among other things, the use of federal funds to promote digital literacy training for low-income Americans. Such training would enhance the availability of broadband Internet services by teaching individuals about the benefits of such services, and how to effectively use the resources that the Internet can provide.

The Washington State ATJ Board, through our own activities and in partnership with others, have been involved in a number of projects that seek to enhance the public’s ability to use and benefit from broadband Internet access. That being the case, we were very pleased to submit comments in support of the FCC’s proposal. Because the FCC’s proposed funding program touches upon the fundamental issues of equal and universal access that underlie the Technology Principles, we also set forth three basic guidelines, derived from the Principles, that we believe should inform the distribution and use of funds. In short, funds should be used in a manner that:

  1. Enhances access to broadband services;
  2. Maximizes public awareness and use; and
  3. Promotes the creation of, and adherence to, best practices guidelines.

In the modern world, universal access to broadband Internet service is more or less a prerequisite of equal access to justice. In seeking the latter, we must support and encourage the former. The ATJ Technology Principles represent a specific application, to the justice system, of general principles that inform the effective, efficient, and egalitarian proliferation of technological advances throughout society. We are excited to see the FCC working towards universal access to broadband for all Americans, which we believe will increase inclusiveness and fairness in society, and help bring about a higher quality of life for all.