Advocacy groups: Retain digital-divide programs

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The digital divide has not disappeared, and government initiatives to wire
all Americans to the Internet shouldn't either, civil-rights and consumer groups
told the Bush administration Wednesday.

One-half of all Americans do not have Internet access at home -- a fact that
disproves the administration's conclusion that the digital divide has
disappeared, the Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy said in a report
produced with the Consumer Federation of America and the Consumers Union.

The computer/Internet supplement to the Commerce Department's most recent
Current Population Survey was misinterpreted to paint a false portrait of a
disappearing digital divide, the groups asserted.

Subsequently, they said, the Bush administration's fiscal-2003 budget has
slated two key digital-divide efforts for elimination -- the Department of
Commerce's Technology Opportunities Program and the Department of Education's
Community Technology Center program.

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