Internet access will challenge democracies

The widespread uptake of new technologies, facilitated by the national roll-out of high-speed Internet access, will put new...

The widespread uptake of new technologies, facilitated by the national roll-out of high-speed Internet access, will put new demands on the democratic process, the president of Iceland has said.

Speaking at the start of a trade mission of Icelandic technology companies to the UK earlier this month, Olafur Ragnar Grímsson, president of Iceland, said broadband Internet services, which provide high-speed, permanent Internet access, had been widely available there for a number of years.

"There's a tendency to think the 21st century is about the economics of the metropolis. But it's only by providing everybody with the possibility [of Internet access] that we can truly have a productive society," he said.

"The Icelandic vision is to make this available to everybody as fast as possible," Grímsson added.

His comments come just weeks after a report was published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, showing that the UK ranked 23rd out of 30 in terms of broadband penetration.

The report says that the UK has fewer broadband lines per 100 inhabitants than Iceland, which casts serious doubt on its aim of becoming the most extensive and competitive broadband market of the G7 nations by 2005.

The widespread adoption of Internet technologies would put new demands on the democratic process and create a big challenge for governments worldwide, added Grímsson.

The Icelandic government, however, did not have any fixed targets for putting government services online, he added.


Hazel Ward
hazel.ward@rbi.co.uk

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