Technology

Martha Lane Fox want all citizens of working age online

UK digital champion Martha Lane Fox wants to get everyone of working age online by 2012.

The Networked Nation Manifesto, published on Monday, also highlights the lack of net access "among the disadvantaged, unemployed and retired".

David Cameron backed the campaign, saying that "digital inclusion is essential for a modern dynamic economy".

However, the issue of who will pay for it all has yet to be addressed.

The report outlines various strategies to get the UK population online, setting itself the challenge of getting "everyone of working age online by the end of this Parliament".

This included working with local charities, establishing so-called digital champions in all local authorities and ensuring there is internet access in every jobcenter plus and public libraries by the end of the year.

The manifesto also suggests that retailers should provide "internet access packages for people on low incomes and the elderly, with low up-front costs, affordable monthly payments, and ongoing support".

Fiscal sense

The Prime Minister praised her goals.

"In the internet age, we need to ensure that people aren't being left behind as more and more services and business move online," he said.

"Promoting digital inclusion is essential for a dynamic modern economy and can help to make government more efficient and effective."

The other target area is people aged 65 and over, half of which have no internet access. The report highlights the benefits online access could give the elderly, saying it can provide a lifeline from social isolation, experienced by an estimated 3.1 million people.

Race Online 2012, is asking for people, who are already online, to sign up to volunteer, donate money or equipment, take part in organising events, or contribute their own ideas about how to get others connected.

The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones warned that finding the cash to support the aims of Network Nation would be a challenge.

"The campaign has set itself an extraordinarily ambitious target - and at a time when government money is in very short supply," he said.

"With spending on IT in schools already being slashed, and doubts over funding for public internet access schemes, Martha Lane Fox will have to look to the private sector to do much of the work.

"And one other problem - amongst those targeted by this mission, a stubborn minority continue to see few reasons why they should bother with the internet."

Martha Lane Fox is due to meet the Prime Minister at Downing Street today at a reception for the digital champions.

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