THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
STATEMENT BY VICE PRESIDENT GORE ON DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE REPORT ABOUT THE GROWING DIGITAL DIVIDE
Three months ago, I called on the Department of Commerce to conduct a thorough analysis of Internet and computer usage in America. Today, Commerce Secretary Daley released a report on these trends -- and the findings are troubling.
The data shows that, although many more Americans now own computers, minorities and low-income households are still far less likely to have personal computers or on-line access to the Internet than white or more affluent households. And even more alarming, today's study reveals that this "digital divide" between households of different races and income levels is growing.
These findings underscore the absolute necessity for programs, such as the E-Rate, that reach out to communities that otherwise lack electronic resources. Under the E-Rate, schools and libraries receive discounts of 20 to 90 percent on telecommunications services, internal connections, and Internet access -- with the deepest discounts going to the poorest urban and rural schools.
In short, the E-Rate program will enable all of our children to mine the riches of our electronic resources, giving them the skills they need to compete in our increasingly high-tech economy.
The E-Rate is one of our most powerful tools to bridge the digital divide because it can help us ensure that, for the first time in our nation's history, a child in the most isolated inner city or rural town will have access to the same universe of knowledge as a child in the most affluent suburb.
Now is the time to bridge the digital divide, prevent those who can benefit the most from falling through the net, and move forward with the E-Rate so that all our children have access to the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century, regardless of race, income, or location.