Who’s on the Net?

Although most Californians agree that the Internet is very important in daily life, many people do not have convenient access to it. As reported in the S.F. Chronicle, home access to the Internet is closely connected to both income and ethnicity. It’s certainly no surprise to most of us to learn that families with incomes below $40,000 are much less likely to have a computer at home, especially one with a Broadband connection, than families with higher incomes. Computers cost a significant amount of money and a Broadband connection is a regular expense that cuts into spending for food, gas and recreation. San Francisco’s plan to have free wireless Internet service throughout the city has not materialized, but it’s important to remember that access for all citizens is important. Public libraries and schools make computers with network connections available to the public, but many other facilities might also provide these connections. With some help from foundations and government grants, recreation centers and community organizations might also provide public access to computers. The Internet has become a crucial part of our news dissemination system. With important national and local elections coming up in the fall, it’s time for some public spirited citizens to step up and try to close the digital gap in allowing people better access the latest facts and opinion on what is going on in our government.

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