If we put enough pressure on the Government, 2017 can be the year that we started to become enfranchised digital citizensby Chi Onwurah / September 13, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in October 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
One of the reasons I chose to be an engineer was because I saw technology as democratising and enabling.
Unfortunately, even as the digital economy has grown—with tech businesses in the UK recording a record £170 billion turnover last year—the opportunities it has created have not reached everyone.
The government needs to recognise this. That means providing everyone with the access, skills and rights they need to become digital citizens.
Universal Digital Suffrage
Reliable access to the internet is a prerequisite for being a digital citizen—but 14 per cent of adults said they did not have access to the internet at home in 2016.
The Tory/Lib Dem Coalition forgot digital inclusion for most of its tenure—when it finally remembered it demonstrated a poverty of ambition. Its target for inclusion was (and remains) 90 per cent. So one in ten will never have access to digital services.
And the current Government is so utterly unambitious about broadband provision that it has now re-announced the same pot of broadband money three times.
In the 19th Century the Tories finally came round to the idea that universal suffrage was a democratic prerequisite. The task now is to make them understand the importance of universal digital suffrage—or elect a Labour government that does.