Jul 03, 2008, 11:50AM

New Media Leaving Too Many Behind

The Internet finds new ways to revoluntionize media and politics every day, from Barack Obama's small donor online fundraising to the death of newspapers. But many Americans are getting left behind because of our embarassingly low level of Internet access, and without that access they'll be unable to participate in the next generation political process.

Last week in New York, a group of prominent bloggers and technology experts came together at the annual Personal Democracy Forum to discuss the evolving relationship between technology and politics. Many of the comments zeroed in on American broadband access.

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein noted that the United States lags behind the industrialized world in Internet access. "It's clear that what we're doing in Washington isn't working," he said.

In 2001, the U.S. ranked fourth in the world in broadband adoption. Today, it is 15th, behind countries like Canada, Iceland, Belgium and the United Kingdom. In rural America, only 39 percent of residents have broadband access.

Adelstein said there was a need for a new national broadband policy. In order for the Internet to "reach its highest potential, we've got to make it accessible and affordable to everyone," he said.

The idea that the Internet provides a "civil right" to express one's opinion is a mantra of both conservative and liberal blogge


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