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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Free Public Wi-Fi Act taking shape
Writer: Dionisio P. Tubianosa, Media Relations Service-PRIB
29 May 2015 07:57:10 AM

The House of Representatives is nearing second reading passage of the proposed free public wireless internet access in public buildings, terminals, parks and plazas nationwide.

"The proposed Free Public Wi-Fi Act seeks to address the country's problem of interconnectivity by providing free public access point in all major public places," the authors stressed.

HB 5791 is entitled "An Act providing free public wireless internet access in public buildings, terminal, parks and plazas throughout the country." The original HB 1550 was principally authored by Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry L. Ridon.

The substitute bill is being defended in plenary by the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology chaired by Rep. Joel Roy R. Duavit (1st District, Rizal) and Rep. Ridon himself.

Co-authors of the substitute measure include: Reps. Xavier Jesus D. Romualdo; Mariano Michael M. Velarde, Jr.; Francis Gerald Aguinaldo Abaya; Monique Yazmin Q. Lagdameo, Antonio L. Tinio and Jonathan Dela Cruz.

HB 5791 mandates the installation of broadband hotspots in the following areas: all national government offices; buildings of state universities and colleges; public parks and plazas; public hospitals and public transportation terminals.

The proposed statute mandates that access to the internet connections shall not be restricted with password, except when there is a clear and present security or technical risk. Within a period of two (2) years (from effectivity of this Act), all public spaces as stated in this Act shall be ensured a range of broadband hotspots.

Likewise, the measure provides that the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) shall be the lead implementing agency of the proposed Act.

It also states that internet connectivity will be provided by the ICTO and hotspots will be made available initially by the services of existing commercial internet service providers (ISPs) when technically, the ICTO cannot provide connectivity.

The measure provides that no fees shall be collected for users to connect to the internet using the public broadband hotspots or the free public wi-fi network.

Furthermore, the proposed law states that the government shall respect the privacy of citizens who use the public broadband hotspots. In no case shall the administration or management of public broadband hotspots engage in the collection, use, or disclosure of user data, including the collection of anonymous traffic data, in accordance with existing laws.