back to article Brussels declares war on web virgins

Information and communications technology is credited with half of all productivity growth in Europe over the last 15 years, which is why the European Commission is pushing for a "digital Single Market". Outlining the Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said the lack of a single market was one reason why Europe was …


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  1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Fuck off Brussels.

    "Everyone, young and old, irrespective of social background, is entitled to the knowledge and skills they need to be part of the digital era since commerce, public, social and health services, learning and political life is increasingly moving online."

    Very true - give this unelected nobody a degree for his profound thinking.

    The counterpoint though, is that not everybody wants to live their life on the internet.

  2. Thomas 4

    Pointless war.

    Like you're really going to find any virgins on the internet.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Blessings on you, Thomas 4

      my name is MARIA and i am a 19 year old virgin from nigeria and i would like much to meet you but i need to pay $1000 for a passport.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You are

      WoW? Just sayin'...

      1. PrivateCitizen
        Thumb Up


        Wow, Maria, that is much, much less than it normally costs. I will wire you the money right away.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In my eyes, this is the wrong way of looking at it. Blaming the tool for the bad workmanship.

    On the one hand, the Internet is bad becase people spend their time socialising on the net instead of real life. On the other hand, they want people to have access to speeds the like of which can only be for multimedia; I mean my 7Mbs connection is more than adequare for my needs.

    Personally, I'd sya that 30% not using the net is a good thing. They have a life and aren't so hooked on virtual existances that their real life existances suffer.

    The ultimate question is ... what are they loosing by not being on the Net and are these people interested in what they're loosing out on, anyway?

  4. Paolo Marini

    would you think of the children (and the elderly)

    it seems to me that roughly 30% of Europeans are either too old or too young to know how (or to care) to use the interwebs, so why Brussels wants to push this down their throats exactly ??

    on the old adage that statistics don't mean anything, I am really "suspicious" when I see Internet penetration in a country/region above two/thirds

    1. Chemist

      Re : would you think of the children (and the elderly) → #

      TOO OLD !!

      Tell that to my 87 year-old mother-in-law who shops on-line, banks, types up/sends minutes for University of the 3rd Age, e-mails, etc.

      All this on LINUX by the way

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Old is a state of mind...

        ...not of body. My 70 year old dad has been taught to install Windows (cuts down immensely on support) and is now toying with Linux on an extra machine, "just to see what it's like". But I don't think he'll go for it, FrontPage is too important to him as he's maintaining several websites (golf club etc.). Old? He's too darn busy to be old.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: would you think of the children

      Well thinking of Children on teh Intarwebs will result in some serious jail time, so its probably best avoided.

  5. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    I thought the virgins

    would already have internet (and L€€t $KiLLz at WoW)

    Paris (because you don't have an icon for Brussels)

  6. Harry

    "60 per cent of attempted cross-border transactions fail ..."

    ... " due to non-acceptance of credit cards or legal restrictions."

    Hmmm, Germany is the only country I know of where sellers are reluctant to accept credit cards ... and even there, I haven't come across an online retailer that won't accept either a credit card or paypal.

    As for legal restrictions, almost the only online sellers that won't ship outside their native country are in the USA not in Europe.

    1. Beau

      "Won't ship outside their native country."

      Living in Belgium, I find the worse country for not shipping outside their borders is England. Likewise they are also the worse for not accepting PayPal, or European Plastic Payments.

      USA, online retailers are generally very good, but the delivery charge for air freight, and the import tax, sadly often make them a no go.

  7. Graham Bartlett

    "Everyone is entitled"

    Everyone is also entitled to go to their local swimming pool and take lessons, for a fairly low fee. In spite of this, some people still can't swim and refuse to learn (for various reasons, including phobias).

    So if there are people who won't learn an essential life-saving skill, why should we think computing will fare better?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    dial up

    Lots of people who are not in a major town or city are on dial up. Many exchanges in fairly large Spanish villages have not been upgraded to ADSL, companies like Telefonica do not see a profit in it so there is no need to divert funding from Formula 1 advertising.

    My folks have a 3g stick and take their laptop and drive to somewhere i found them on a coverage map and do all their internet related stuff in the 2 hours of battery they are afforded.

    Until Telcos are given something more than just market forces to encourage them to invest properly, this kind of hot air is meaningless from Brussels.

  9. Patrick R
    Paris Hilton

    30 Mbps or faster ... what for ?

    "Everyone, young and old, irrespective of social background, is entitled to the knowledge and skills they need to be part of the digital era since commerce, public, social and health services, learning and political life is increasingly moving online. ...So the target is for all Europeans to have access to 30 Mbps or faster services by 2020"

    ... does any of that make you need 30Mbps or faster ? Or are they asked to sell it ?

  10. Shakje


    "So the target is for all Europeans to have access to 30 Mbps or faster services by 2020"

    So let me get this right, that's been taken to mean Europe wants to force everyone to get online? Why is it seen as a bad thing that they want to provide the ability to access high-speed services to the whole of Europe? I fully agree that it's probably a silly target that seems unworkable, but turning it into a "bloody Brussels forcing stuff down our throats" Euro-sceptic wank-off seems a bit silly.

    Let's say that there's a mystical food generator that allows the creation of any food immediately, and for free:

    "So the target is for all Europeans to have access to a food generator by 2020"

    You might want to continue making your own food, or farming cows, and you can make that choice, but having the ability to make that choice isn't a bad thing.

  11. Maurice Shakeshaft


    "Information and communications technology is credited with half of all productivity growth"

    I think that is a very tendentious statement. In my, sadly limited, experience ICT does little to add to 'productivity growth" - in my world at least. Who and how is "productivity" measured.

    I spend inordinate amounts of time dealing with electronic correspondence that is only not irrelevant because it comes from people who can adversely affect my life. The content is, almost invariably TBlx, but "must" be responded to. If these f**kwits didn't have access to ICT then they would have to think before writing the shit they write and then maybe they wouldn't. Equally, they may become engaged in more productive enterprises.

    I have to fight with poorly developed and incomplete "office productivity tools" because the team has been deployed by some product marketing youth onto the Next Big Thing.

    Bahhh Humbug, I say, pass me my quill & parchment I need to write a letter...

    Big Brother

    Trust and Confidence

    Before anyone can have trust and confidence in the privacy/integrity/security of UK internet services, the UK Government must put the criminals on BT's board of directors in prison.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    IT & Productivity

    "I think that is a very tendentious statement. In my, sadly limited, experience ICT does little to add to 'productivity growth" - in my world at least. Who and how is "productivity" measured."

    Indeed ITC creates a lot of waste. On the other hand, it speeds up plenty of processes in real-world sectors like manufacturing and R&D. Just look at how quickly companies can now change car and aircraft designs. Look at their highly efficient logistics chains and minimal inventory levels. Or just-in-time manufacturing.

    The finance sector would be totally different w/o modern ITC. Whether they are always positively contributing, I have some doubts. But overall, ITC has increased real wealth considerably. Companies don't spend so much money on PCs, SAP and hardware for nothing.

    I find it positive that the EU is concerned about broadband access, as this is very important for economic, social and cultural reasons. Just think of your ability to search for a job, use wikipedia, read the news, work from your home etc etc.

    But "EU" is synonymous with Louis XIV to many of those Highly Rational Englishmen, so all they say is by default BAD.

    Those rational people also claim the EU is not elected, which is patently untrue, as there IS a european parliament, who have teeth indeed.

  14. S.G.


    one per cent of Europeans can access fibre-networks versus 12 per cent of Japanese people and 15 per cent of South Koreans.

    Compare that with the density of people in Europe and in these two country. Trying to connect people in the countryside is not as cost effective.

    Anyway, why should people be forced to use the net (or anything for that matter) in a free country?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    made up numbers, hyperbole or...?

    This claim: "30 per cent of Europeans have never used the net at all" seems to be crying out for a rational analysis.

    This implies 1 in 3 people in Europe have never used the internet for anything in their life. I find that very hard to believe unless there are huge regions where there is no internet access at all (likely). Combatting that is not the same as producing high speed broadband everywhere.

    Think about everyone you know and how many have never, ever, been on the net in their life - never used it at school, work, college, uni or the jobcentre. Never ever used it. Do you come up with 1 in 3? I certainly dont.

    My 90 year old granparents have used the internet (albeit rarely). My 5 year old child uses the internet. Try as I might, I cant think of a single person I know (work with, related to or associated with) who has never used the internet. I know people who dont use it often, who rarely check email, never access Farcebook etc. but none who have never used the net.

    Dodgy sampling but 30% is a high figure. You would think at least some of the people I know would fall into that box.....

    1. Pete 2

      non english speakers

      Most europeans don't speak english. Most internet content is in english (well, american, at least). The use that most mono-lingual europeans can get from an internet connection is much, much less that what a brit can - simply because the amount of content accessible to them is so limited.

      Next thing. A lot of countries (france, spain, italy, portugal etc.) have much lower population densities that the UK. When you get away from cities it very quickly becomes uneconomic to provide phone lines for miles, just to service a couple of houses in a hamlet. Even telephone (excluding mobiles) coverage in rural communities is sporadic. Upgrading the quality of the line to ADSL standards is expensive and lacks demand.

      A lot of people in other countries don't have the disposable incomes of northern / western europeans. they also have to pay much more for their technology, so the inclination to have a computer at home is much less, and for people who's kids have grown up and moved away - even less still.

      Rather than thinking of the average european as the sort of two-car, semi-detached household we are used to (which I agree with you, almost always have and use the internet) think of a family of olive farmers in southern Italy, who's children would much prefer a moto than a PC, since that's what all their friends have got.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        I dont doub there are areas of Europe where people do not have the "always on" lifestyle we have come to expect in the LA we all imagine we live in, however this still doesnt equate to having "never" used the internet.

        I lived in an small Italian town on the Amalfi coast in 2000 and internet access was pretty damn common there. Anyone who goes to a European school will have *used" the internet at some point in their lives.

        I dont think there is any question that some people *rarely* use the internet but that is not the same as "never" is it?

        There is over 50% internet penetration (based on trackable users) in Europe, this means that well over half the rest of the population not only dont have internet access but dont have a school, job, library (etc) that gives it. Now given that lots of families will show up as 1 trackable user, the never used figure seems even more unlikely.

  16. Pete 2

    have access to != get it for free

    Any country could fulfill this very easily. Simply install a honkin' fat pipe to the local town hall and bung a few PCs in a room there. Voila! Job done. Everyone would be permitted to use it for no charge,. Alternatively, well M'sieur you want 30MBit/s in your 'ouse? Certainment, that will be 10,000 euros to install it and 100euros a month (which isn't far off what telefonica charge for rural 2MBit/s access in Spain) subscription - for 5 years, minimum.

    The point to internet access is to make it cheap enough to be ubiqutous, and easy enough that everyone can use it just like a TV. Not to overcome the technology challenges about suppling the connectivity. As it is a lot of people (of whatever age) either don't want, can't see the need for are positively hostile to "all this computer stuff".

    While you can lead a horse to water, you have no right to shove a firehose up it's .... sorry: down it's throat.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    @non english speakers

    We all know that there exists only one true civilization - the Merkins And Tommies. Everbody else lives in a state of poverty and is ruled by the Tyrantts of Bruzzels, Beijing and Moscow.

    Seriously, large parts of France, Spain and Germany have better infrastructure than Britain. And those regions of Italy where people are dirt-poor are not very large. In some parts of Germany you can get 100Mbit/s Internet access through the cable TV pipe.

    As much as the EU has financed the building of large road networks and other infrastructure projects, it should work towards broadband access for everybody. Whether you need a cable to every household remains questionable, though. Linking up remote houses with UMTS, WiMAX or directed microwave links or a hybrid of those might be a much better idea.

    Also, a hybrid fiber/laser/WiMAX setup might be an economic idea of providing internet access. Of course, one must overcome the Mobile-Phone-Mast-Phobians, if you intend to put a transmitter right into the center of a remote village....

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