Government Pushes To Get 7.5m More People Online

A new government initiative aims to get 60 percent of the 12.5 million UK citizens not connected to the net online by 2014

The government has announced its latest plan to encourage more people to go online, which it claims will benefit businesses and the economy in the long run.

In a statement this week, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said that it plans to get around 60 percent of the 12.5 million people who are not online connected to the net by 2014. The plan is being supported by the Consortium for the Promotion Of Digital Participation – a group of 60 public and private organisations which works to encourage people to go online.

“Being online is crucial for participation in the 21st Century society – the Internet unlocks a wealth of information and services, giving people more choice in life and access to a range of education, health and financial opportunities,” said Minister for Digital Britain, Stephen Timms. “Our National Plan is an exciting project which will provide the leadership and framework for existing and emerging digital participation projects to drive a more inclusive Digital Britain.”

Timms added that encouraging more people to go online would even help to improve society as a whole. “Bringing people online for the first time and enabling people to interact more creatively will enrich our society and we will ensure no one is left behind.”

Around £12 million is being earmarked to support the 2014 plan through the Consortium of Digital Participation whose 60 members include Ofcom, Google, BBC, Sky, UK Online Centres and Age UK.

The government says it is already funding several strategies to encourage more people online. Around £300 million has been allocated via the Home Access programme which aims to provide free computers and internet connections to 270,000 families with school children. Another £30 million has been allocated to the UK’s Online Centres set up as part of the Smarter Government initiative.

In January business secretary Lord Mandelson launched a scheme and website designed to encourage more adults to improve their knowledge of computing and the Internet and develop online skills. Despite supporting the push to get more UK citizens online, Lord Mandelson is also credited with pushing through controversial legislation that will allow the government to cut-off the Internet access of an entire household if someone within that dwelling is found to be guilty of persistent file-sharing.

The government is also facing controversy over the Digital Economy Bill. The government admitted recently that owners of open access Wi-Fi hotspots could be at risk of huge liability fines over copyrighted content.

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