The right to access the web: the time is now

Innovazione Digitale

7 October 2020

1 minuto

 

The coronavirus emergency has led the Internet to become the default option for every person in every sector. If connection to the Internet becomes an essential good, politics must get involved to avoid the emergence of new inequalities stemming from this dependence on the Internet.

 

COVID-19 and its consequences have disrupted the daily routines and lifestyles of us all. Since the end of February there is no aspect of our lives that has not been influenced by the spread of the coronavirus. From working to teaching, to commerce and culture, we have experienced a radical paradigm shift. Before COVID-19, physical presence was the rule and online interaction the exception or fallback choice. Now, the solutions offered by the Internet represent the default option in every area.

 

Every Italian family is dealing with smart working, distance learning, purchases on virtual marketplaces, home banking, and streaming entertainment. A stable and fast Internet connection in the home, as well as devices capable of connecting to the Network, have become essential goods, comparable in importance to the supply of water and electricity.

 

Access to the Web should now be considered a fundamental right of every citizen, worthy of recognition in legislature. The attention of political decision-makers and the media is instead dominated by the battle against the virus and the measures necessary to counter the massive recession that has started to hit the European continent.

 

Based on data published by Istat in April 2020 from a study of 2018 to 2019, a third of Italian families do not have computers or tablets at home, with numbers reaching over 40% in the South. Using the same numbers, only 22% of households have a PC or tablet available for each family member, which raises many doubts about the possibility of parents and children being able to work and virtually attend school at the same time.

 

70 million euros were allocated in March by decree for the purchase of devices for distance learning and 80 million devices were made available by the Ministry of Education, but this is only a starting point.

 

Ultimately, if the government intends to ensure that no one is left behind due to the socio-economic effects of COVID-19, it must intervene to guarantee citizens’ have equal basic opportunities for accessing the Internet.