11.3: Digital Divide
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The Digital Divide
As the Internet continues to make inroads across the world, it is also creating a separation between those who have access to this global network and those who do not. This separation is called the “digital divide” and is of great concern. An article in Crossroads puts it this way:
Adopted by the ACM Council in 1992, the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct focuses on issues involving the Digital Divide that could prevent certain categories of people — those from low-income households, senior citizens, single-parent children, the undereducated, minorities, and residents of rural areas — from receiving adequate access to the wide variety of resources offered by computer technology. This Code of Ethics positions the use of computers as a fundamental ethical consideration: “In a fair society, all individuals would have equal opportunity to participate in, or benefit from, the use of computer resources regardless of race, sex, religion, age, disability, national origin, or other similar factors.” This article summarizes the digital divide in its various forms, and analyzes reasons for the growing inequality in people’s access to Internet services. It also describes how society can bridge the digital divide: the serious social gap between information “haves” and “have-nots.”
The digital divide can occur between countries, regions, or even neighborhoods. In many US cities, there are pockets with little or no Internet access, while just a few miles away high-speed broadband is common.
Solutions to the digital divide have had mixed success over the years. Many times, just providing Internet access and/or computing devices is not enough to bring true Internet access to a country, region, or neighborhood.