Washington Post Examines Debate over Nation’s ‘Digital Divide’
The Washington Post on Saturday examined the "political fight" that has developed over the nation's "digital divide" -- the gap between individuals with and without access to the Internet, which can have a number of health-related applications -- after the Bush administration cited several studies that found the divide "seems to be disappearing" as the basis for a decision to eliminate funds for some programs to promote Internet access. Studies from the University of California-Los Angeles, the Department of Commerce and the Pew Research Center found that Internet access has increased for minority groups, rural residents and individual who did not attend college, but opponents of the reductions "say reports that the digital divide has been closed are premature." A number of consumer advocacy groups, such as the Benton Foundation, say that the administration has taken a "glass half full" position on the issue, "focusing on the gains made by certain groups rather than the gaps themselves." In addition, a new digital divide has formed between individuals with and without broadband access, Norris Dickard, a senior associate at Benton, said. He added that the broadband divide will limit the use of "really important" applications, such as telemedicine. Other groups have criticized the studies for their focus on Internet access in the "wider community" -- such as at libraries or Internet cafes -- rather than in the home, the Post reports (Cha, Washington Post, 6/29). For more iHealth & Technology stories, visit iHealthBeat.org, a new Web publication sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.