|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.34, 20.9.01, p8|
THE unemployed, uneducated and poor are falling even further behind in the information technology age despite the efforts of member states to ensure everyone has internet access, says the European Commission.
In a report due out next week, Social Affairs and Employment Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou will warn that there is an increasing "digital divide" between those who use the web regularly and an electronic underclass in danger of being excluded.
In just seven months, between November 2000 to June 2001, the number of internet users soared from one-quarter of EU citizens to one-third, the paper reveals.
But the report states that this phenomenal growth rate was not matched among the poor, jobless or disabled.
There is also a gulf between the numbers of male and female users online: "Internet access of women is still significantly less than that of EU men," states the paper. "In absolute terms the gender gap even grew in the last months."
Concerns over certain groups being left out of the internet age are exacerbated by the reluctance of many people to 'log on'. According to the report, 39% of people who do not surf the internet say nothing could encourage them to start.
But the paper, drawn up with the help of experts from all member states, stresses it is up to EU governments to propose measures to ensure that everyone has access to new technology.
It says local authorities should set up more internet access points in libraries, schools or other public buildings.
It also calls for governments to offer grants to help poor people to buy computer equipment and to introduce quality checks on public-authority websites to ensure they are easy to use. "A wired up world has the potential to create 'digital haves' and 'digital have-nots'," says Diamantopoulou. "Our job is to make sure that the world of information and communication technology works for those on the margins of society and not against them."
Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark are the most advanced when it comes to using the internet. Some 66% of Swedes, 65% of Dutch people and 64% of Danes regularly go online.
At the other end of the scale, only 15% of Greeks and 19% of Portuguese are web surfers. Forecasts indicate that the number of users across the EU will double to two-thirds of the total population by the end of 2004.
The unemployed, uneducated and poor are falling even further behind in the information technology age despite the efforts of Member States to ensure everyone has internet access, says the European Commission.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry, Employment and Social Affairs|