The deepening digital divide

The internet is often thought to level the playing field. But the latest research reveals this may not be the case.

According to the Australian Digital Inclusion Index an ever increasing number of Australians are spending more time online. But, there are still over 3 million people who don't use the internet and the gap between those who are online and those who are not is widening.

People living on fixed low incomes along with older Australians, people with disabilities, remote Indigenous communities and people in regional areas are more likely to be offline.

The issue for many, unsurprisingly, is affordability. While internet services may cost less than they have in the past, the price of being connected is out of reach for many.

But is this barrier recognised by Governments and private sector service providers? Not likely. More and more we see service providers demanding fees for paper bills and statements.

In an era hell bent on protecting freedom this denial of choice flies in the face of some of the most disadvantaged Australians. Charging for paper bills and statements will not encourage people unable to use or afford the internet to go out and buy a device so they can receive them electronically. Making people pay for paper bills is a pointless penalty.

Surely society has taken a couple of steps back if what was once the norm is now considered a privilege.