Nessel urges Congress to fund expanded access to Internet

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently joined 38 attorneys general in urging Congress to help ensure all Americans have home Internet connectivity necessary to participate in telemedicine, teleschooling and telework as part of any additional legislation that provides relief and resources related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. residents know first-hand how critical Internet access is to meet their basic needs after weeks of learning, working, socializing and seeking health care from home.

“For millions of people across this nation, the ability to certify for unemployment, apply for jobs, continue an education or to even see a doctor now depends on their access to the internet,” said Nessel. “This pandemic is shining a light on the deep digital divide in America and especially at a time when people are being told to stay home, Congress should want to do its part in closing it.”

Unless Congress acts quickly, disparities in access to home Internet connectivity will exacerbate existing gaps in educational and health outcomes along lines of geography, economic resources and race.

In a letter sent to Congressional leaders, the attorneys general urge Congress to:

• Provide state, territorial and local governments with adequate funding expressly dedicated to ensuring that all students and patients, especially senior citizens who are at risk, have adequate internet-enabled technology to participate equally in online learning and telemedicine.

• Increase funding to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission Universal Service Fund, which provides vital funding to rural and low-income populations, health care providers and educators with the goal of bridging the digital divide.

With public health experts warning that a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections may require teleschooling and telemedicine to continue for millions of Americans throughout 2020, it is critical Congress act now to help ensure that all Americans have the home internet connectivity they need to access educational opportunities, health care and to earn a livelihood.