India’s Digital Divide
Our freedom to spend and socialize has been dramatically curtailed. The privilege and poverty is as strong as it was before. Physical isolation has become important for everyone. The people who live in lavish spaces and those who live in cramped spaces. The first community will work from home, video chat with ageing parents or engage in online courses. The second group will struggle for the basic necessities.- Digital divide
The recent Covid-19 pandemic gave the fact that internet access is no longer a privilege, but a basic requirement to society. About half of the world’s population is online now. Yet access varies greatly depending on the country level of growth, individual wealth and education, and gender. Fewer women use the internet than men. For certain cases, right now (even though not all the information is reliable) the opportunity to use a vital source of knowledge can be a matter of life and death. Actively denied entry to millions of people; Human Rights Watch, the human rights wing of the UN has urged governments that have enforced shutdowns – such as Bangladesh and Myanmar – to lift them, warning that they could prove deadly given the spread of corona virus.
The pandemic is a powerful reminder of the digital divide’s sordid effects. This makes the case for treating internet access as a public utility: an important infrastructure that the state must better control and fund. Throughout the UK, the government and large telecoms providers have agreed to abolish data usage limits on broadband networks, avoid cutting off customers who can’t afford bills and provide lucrative new smartphone and landline packages with unlimited capacity at reduced rates or free calls. Some networks in US have agreed to offer service to those who fall behind on fees, while businesses from Belgium to South Africa has surged with bandwidth caps.
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Other sensible suggestions by the World Wide Web Foundation, including zero-rated websites for official health agencies and other critical government programs, so they don’t borrow from data plans for users – providing access to the most relevant and accurate information. Those are all constructive and successful moves. Yet they discuss an issue that this crisis has exposed and worsened, and not generated by it. The digital divide will also need to be reduced when the danger posed by corona virus has ebbed away.