SP: vulnerable groups may miss out on Internet access

14 January 2010

SP: vulnerable groups may miss out on Internet access

Today in the European Parliament the hearing took place of European Commissioner-designate Neeli Kroes. The SP called her attention to the issue of Internet access for all, but Kroes was unable to cite any concrete steps she had in mind to achieve this and avoid social division. SP European Parliamentary group leader Dennis de Jong says: ´The Internet has now become so important that you really can't manage without it any more. So everyone should have a right of access. Kroes says that she wants everyone to have the Internet as quickly as possible, but how she will guarantee this is far from clear."

Dennis de JongIn the SP's view Kroes must put pressure on the member states to ensure that each country, in whatever way it sees fit, enables everyone to have access to the Internet. De Jong points first and foremost to vulnerable groups who are threatened with exclusion. "We're in danger of creating a digital division which will mean old people, the unemployed and people on welfare benefits missing out on the Internet." Despite the fact that Kroes agreed that she was also concerned about the problem, she did not bring forward any concrete proposals. De Jong describes this as "a missed opportunity," adding that "there's far too much talk in Brussels. Now's the time for action."

The same danger exists in relation to the gulf between major corporations and small firms. The latter are still making too little use of the Internet and computerised systems. Only 10% of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are on the digital highway. Kroes promised to make efforts on their behalf, but once again made no concrete proposals. "In the past Kroes has for the most part dealt with big companies," says De Jong, "and it's high time that she started speaking to SMEs, to consumer organisations and creative Internet workers. All of these groups have ideas and interests which diverge from those of major corporations."

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