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The Internet EU Stats Technology

A Quarter of the EU Has Never Used the Web 392

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-all-this-then? dept.
smitty777 writes "Reuters reports that a quarter of the EU has yet to use the internet. Further, half of those in some of the southern and western states do not even have internet access at home. From the article: 'As well as highlighting geographic disparities across one of the world's most-developed regions, the figures underline the lack of opportunity people in poorer communities have to take part in advances such as the Internet that have delivered lower cost goods and service to millions of people.' The full report created by Eurostat can be found here."
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A Quarter of the EU Has Never Used the Web

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  • North, east and west (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:20AM (#38380926)

    The summory sais 'West' but that's supposed to be 'East' - the former communist countries. Poverty and bad infrastructure are known problems there.. Lack of internet probably the least of their problems.

    As for southern europe goes - yes, they have more internet cafe's. I assume the climate helps on that culture, same as for coffee etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dunkelfalke (91624)

      It has been 20 years since. The infrastructure in the eastern Europe is good enough nowadays and the internet usage is widespread there.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    States?

    • Re:States? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Canazza (1428553) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:33AM (#38380966)

      Members of the EU are often referred to as Member States. Or Constituent Countries.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@woCURIErld3.net minus physicist> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:25AM (#38380948) Homepage

    Everyone should have access to the internet. Those at the poorest end of society need it the most because all the best utility deals are online, as is a lot of government information.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The internet is a tool in the same way as a TV is a tool...

      It's not essential. Most people can get by without the TV. Most people don't NEED internet access at home either...

      • by cbope (130292) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:50AM (#38381050)

        Sorry, fail. In a modern society it can be challenging to get by without internet access. Take Finland for example, where internet access is a right for all citizens. Practically all services are handled electronically here. Banking has been done online for a couple decades (perhaps more, I wasn't living here before that). We do not use paper checks (how archaic), and the banks have had electronic kiosks for paying bills and performing basic banking tasks as far back as I can remember. I pay all store purchases with a bank card (debit), credit card or very occasionally, cash from an ATM. Today, the vast majority in Finland do their banking online. The last time I was in a bank physically, was when taking out a mortgage many years ago. I do 100% of my financial transactions at home, or any place I can have access via internet. All my bills are paid electronically online.

        To the naysayers that will inevitably say they don't trust online transactions, I call bullshit. I cannot begin to count the number of transactions in let's say the last 10 years (must be in the many thousands), and not ONCE have I had an issue. It can be done if your financial institutions take security seriously.

        Perhaps in some less well developed countries it may be possible to live offline, but I would say that if you tried to live offline here you will have a much more difficult time as practically all services are online. You may be able to live without TV, but living without internet access would be very challenging here.

        • by fantomas (94850) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:28AM (#38381210)

          The EU has a wide spread of countries, and development levels. Rural Romania has a different level of wealth and technology infrastructure than urban Finland, for example.

          You make a good point about trust as an issue why some people might not take up internet use. My 77 year old father here in the UK does not go shopping online. I think part of this is lack of trust with the novel (to him) environment. Also, he doesn't need to go online. All his local services are within a few kilometres and he likes doing business in person. He is retired, so he can go to the bank and shops during quiet times of the day. Some people don't need the internet, or if they have access to it, choose not to use it.

          For some people in Europe it is technical infrastructure. Check out a map of Europe and you will find that there are large areas where there is low speed or little access to the internet - modem speed access or maybe no access to fixed line telephones or mobile coverage. In Scotland, there is better coverage for 3G phones in the seas around the country than on the surface area of the land (internet is usually ok up to 2Mbs via land line in this country).

          For quite a number of people in Europe, they cannot afford the cost of an internet connection. Check out prices in some of the lower developed European countries compared to state pension levels for example. For the young, employed, urban Europeans in highly developed countries internet costs are low compared to income, but for many others this is not the case.

          • by ahotiK (2426590) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:32AM (#38381420)
            You have a good point. I actually live in Sweden one of the top tier countries but I was born and lived most of my life in Romania so I kind of know how the situation looks like. The problem with those statistics is that everything is showed in percent. 90% of Sweden's population is still less than 50% of Romania's population if you think of the number of individuals. Then again Sweden is indeed a more developed and richer country as are most of the west European countries. As the previous comment says people living in the rural parts of east and southern European countries have other, bigger problems to deal with in the everyday life that using the Internet. Most of those people can't afford the luxury of an Internet connection or a computer for that matter and there aren't Internet Cafes in all those remote Transylvanian villages for them to go to. Some of those remote mountain villages don't even have (or maybe they have now but didn't for a couple years ago) electricity or a telephone line, so for them the web is a thing of science fiction.
        • by tehcyder (746570)
          Your argument is circular though. Obviously, if everything is done online, then being offline will be a hardship or extreme inconvenience.

          But if your country is largely offline, things like shopping and banking will be done by traditional means instead, and not being online won't really matter except in marginal convenience.

          If, for instance, you made voting online only, then clearly you would have to guarantee internet access for everybody,
        • How clients do banking is irrelevant, in so I agree that the completely electronic way is more practical.
          But, fractional reserve, international loans between banks, money being issued by central banks and bailouts are turning money into numbers on a bank's server, under control of the bank. That means that in the long run private wealth will succumb, because you cannot compete with guys that can throw more money at everything and whose mission is to have people ask them loans.

          Capitalism is dead, free market

    • The UK is one of the most advanced states in terms of using the Internet for commerce, and one of the most backward in using it to inform citizens and allow things like document filing on line. Even former Soviet countries do better than the UK, and Malta (where most people are within walking distance of the nearest Government representative) is better at supplying official information on line than we are.

      So, interestingly, your argument (which I completely agree with) seems to have been taken on board by t

      • by joss (1346)

        Nah, not true. UK is behind in some ways and ahead of the game in others (releasing government data in rdf format suitable for SPARQL queries for instance). Its a bit slow in online document filing but a leader in many areas of releasing public data.

    • by ledow (319597) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:49AM (#38381044) Homepage

      Maybe, and I'm just guessing here, they just didn't WANT to access the net. And they almost certainly didn't want to be REQUIRED to access the net to get some services, for example. Personally speaking, we're only the FIRST generation to grow up with the Internet. There's one generation below us now that are the second. Everyone else has either had to learn very quickly or accept that they are past the stage where learning computers is easy for them (30 years ago, it was the exclusive domain of the nerd - and not everyone's a nerd).

      Maybe, just maybe, they don't give a shit about the Internet especially when it's being shoved down their throats in preference to a) talking to human beings at good companies, b) doing your own homework instead of relying on an "independent" price comparison site and c) spending hundreds of pounds on something they'll never learn to use.

      The best utility deals should not be only online, for a start. The cost of online vs paper statement is literally pence, no matter what the industry. And I won't use any internet-only business myself because it means I *can't* ring them up or send them a letter and get my problem sorted (my personal success rate of problem resolution by phone is about 90%, in person about 99%, by email about 10%). And if an older person phones up a utility company, they should still be given a fecking good deal whether or not they signed up online or not. In my country, the law is clamping down on things like that for precisely those reasons - the people most likely to not be able to take advantage of Internet deals are *EXACTLY* the kind of people who should be getting those rates.

      Those at the poorest end of society are the ones worrying over 50p in the electricity meter, not which £1000 laptop they'll buy or whether their £20/month internet connection can save them £1.99 on statement delivery from their bank. But it's not about those people, it's about people who don't WANT to use the Internet for everything.

      Personally, I *do* have Internet access to absolutely everything I need, and even did all but one present of my Christmas shopping online this year, but there are some things where I *refuse* to have a good service that serves a purpose replaced with a faceless corporate website.

      My bank still want me to change to completely paperless (no thanks, I like to keep paper evidence and it'll cost me the same to print out my statements as it will them to print and post them to me - even though I check them online all the time), and don't want me to talk to humans in a branch (because they give me what I want/need most of the time). My car insurers need to have a phone line anyway so I can report accidents. My girlfriend will be getting a present bought *IN PERSON* because you can't buy jewellery over the Internet and know what you're getting (I would argue the same for clothing). In work, we still fax official orders because it has more legal weight. I used to fill my tax return in on the official forms and only ever submitted online once (for the final return I had to send when I stopped being self-employed, and even that I did on paper first to check their calculations).

      Not everything works over the Internet, most importantly when things go wrong. When things go wrong, the website of the company in question is absolutely 100% useless, even if they are an ISP or hosting company (in some cases, even more so if you can't get online!). Give me the phone number of some middle-manager, though, and I'll have the problem sorted in minutes. The Internet is nothing more than a convenient shield from your customers and some customers won't accept that.

      And some people, because of the way they work, just don't want to use / trust the Internet. In time, they will be obsoleted and everyone will start to use it from a young age, but until that time you have to accept that giving people *access* to the Internet is wonderful but you can't FORCE them to use it for everything. And, in fact, you'll learn that as you deal with more and more companies, it's the ones that provide a personal, human service that give you the most return on your custom, not the faceless corporate entities that hid behind a contact form and a privacy policy.

      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        what country still gives faxed documents more weight than other transmitted signatures? The US has explicitly recognized electronic signatures for years, the US is usually way the hell behind and we still use mostly mag swipe (credit) or swipe and pin (debit), nobody offers or accepts chip and pin, and we are just starting to see contactless air swipe (no pin) transactions
      • Amen to all that (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Viol8 (599362)

        I'm really getting rather sick of listening to patronising Generation Y'ers that the net is the solution to all day to day transactions and that anyone who doesn't agree is some sort of reactionary luddite.

        You know what? If those people want to live their lives online then thats their lookout.

        But I actually LIKE going to shops to check out stuff physically before I buy in IT THE SHOP so I have somewhere to take it back to if it fails instead of having to parcel it up and go down the post office and pay mone

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      Everyone should have access to the internet.

      No sir. The problem with the whole idea is that its based on the false premise that people have a right to the overly generalized "internet."

      People dont have a right to access 4chan all day long, right? Or watch NetFlix all day? Listen to Pandora all day? YouPorn? Farmville? If there are things you can do on the internet that you believe are essential, why are you trying to declare the entire thing essential, instead of making sure essential things arent only available on the internet?

      This isnt to say

  • by Hast (24833) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:35AM (#38380986)

    The article (and report) conclude that "24 percent of 16-74 year olds across the 27 countries in the European Union have never accessed the Internet". Meanwhile in the parts of the EU with the highest Internet use (such as in the Scandinavian countries) the rate of Internet access (ie people who actively use the Internet, not people who've used it only once) is in the 90%.

    I would assume part of the reason for the statistic is that 16-74 is a pretty big age span. Particularly when it comes to new technology. It wouldn't surprise me if the "never used internet" population is almost entirely in the 50+ age bracket. Unfortunately the article, and report, doesn't give that information.

    • I've met more than a few elderly people with, well not an Internet aversion but I guess just Internet ambivalence. They didn't have it growing up, they can't see why they need it now and don't wish to learn something new.

      Also they are part of the case of dialup stats. You find an amazing number of people still on dialup. Geeks tend to say "Oh that's because broadband distribution sucks, so many people can't get it!" While it is true that broadband penetration isn't 100%, turns out that where most people liv

    • Living in the EU (Portugal, with frequent trips to Spain), that seems *very* likely. We have an aging population and plenty of elderly people live in their own house either as a couple or alone, and it's rare to find one with Internet access.

      Furthermore, we have free internet access in some places provided by the local government, which reduces the need to pay for a home connection.

      Besides, our elderly extremely low pensions and can usually barely afford to both eat and pay for their medicine, so no wonder

  • "Lowest standard of living in Europe."

    • by master_p (608214)

      (Greek here).

      Actually, it is not true.

      The standard of living is quite high in Greece. Is not on par with the standard of living in Scandinavia, or Switzerland, or France, for example, but it is very close.

      Greek people do not use the Internet as much as the other countries because it is not developed much in Greece. Part of the problem is the Government: it is one of the most bureaucratic organizations on Earth, requiring detailed written forms to handle everything. If paper is required, then people are not

  • Not west, EAST! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Beriaru (954082) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:43AM (#38381010)
    As a Spaniard (South and West of EU) I have to say the summary is wrong. The fine article says the South and EAST!
    Anyway, Spain is a country with large rural areas, but the broadband is nearly ubiquitous.
    • In the places of Galicia where I spend my summers, most people don't have Internet access at home. Locals use the public computers and tourists use 3G.

      You probably can get broadband, but that doesn't mean people will subscribe to it.

  • Wikipedia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dingen (958134) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:02AM (#38381090)

    I'm always amazed when I see the number of articles on Wikipedia in different languages. The German Wikipedia for example has about 1.3 million articles, while the number of German-speaking people is about 100 million. There are *a lot* more people speaking Spanish around the world (Mexico alone has more than 100 million citizens), yet there are only about 850.000 articles in Spanish on Wikipedia.

    I think the number of articles says a lot about internet penetration in European countries, because most of them have their own language. The Dutch Wikipedia for example has almost a million articles, while only about 30 million or so people actually speak the language. You see the same sort of ratio between articles to speakers in other nordic and western European countries. This ratio drops sharply as you move towards the east and south of Europe. People seem to be a lot less interested to add content to the internet in those countries. You could argue a poor country has other more important preoccupations, but people in countries such as Spain or Italy aren't all that poor, yet they don't seem to be adding a lot of articles to Wikipedia either.

    • Re:Wikipedia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzfuzz (881119) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:16AM (#38381160)
      Or they use the English Wikipedia - I'm from Denmark and I don't know anyone using the danish Wikipedia. Why use it if the same info is already available in another language you understand?
      • Re:Wikipedia (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dingen (958134) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:43AM (#38381268)
        Even so, Denmark has only about 6 million citizens, yet they've written almost 160.000 articles in Danish on Wikipedia. That's a *way* better ratio than most southern/eastern European countries. The Romanian Wikipedia for example only includes 10.000 more articles than the Danish one, yet their population is more than three times as large as Denmark. And even a relatively wealthy and modern country like Italy has a ratio which is far worse (almost 900.000 articles with a population of 60 million.)
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        I use the finnish version for finnish stuff quite a lot.

        because the english version doesn't have as much. usually it means that the english version lacks all the dirt, actually. especially about politicians.

      • Re:Wikipedia (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:09AM (#38381356) Homepage

        The Danish wikipedia will accept Danish sources, the English one generally won't. That at least seems to me to be the primary reason why the Norwegian wikipedia is sometimes better for things in, from or about Norway. But yes, for generic information I too use the English one.

      • Same here. Particularly since the Portuguese version is a mixed mess (regardless of how they try to make them appear the same by decree, the reality is that Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese are written differently).

      • by Pecisk (688001)

        You oversimplify knowledge of English in general society. Most people like to read stuff in their mother language. For example while I know English (and particularly IT English) quite well, I'm still using Latvian interfaces and enjoy reading stuff in Latvian language, including Latvian Wikipedia. Yes, I read tons of materials in English, but still...

        It is all about access. Having information in English is better than no having information at all, but having it in local language is a must.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      The Dutch Wikipedia for example has almost a million articles, while only about 30 million or so people actually speak the language.

      ...perhaps this relative enthusiasm for native Wikipedias in smaller countries with unique languages comes from a desire to pro-actively promote the language?

      Dutch, Danish, Finnish, the Norwegian languages and other "minority" European languages could conceivably be steamrollered by English in the long term (English is already the de facto lingua franca* of the EU), whereas Spanish and Portuguese's future is assured by South America. Its similar to Welsh in the UK - the effort to preserve the language i

      • by dingen (958134)

        That does explain the relative high number of articles in western/northern Europe, but it doesn't account for the lack of articles in equally obscure languages, such as Hungarian or Greek. I still think the ratio between articles in a language on Wikipedia and number of speakers of that language is a good way to measure internet penetration in countries.

        It obviously fails for languages without a strong connection to a specific country, such as English or Spanish. But even so, it's interesting to see that th

    • You could argue a poor country has other more important preoccupations, but people in countries such as Spain or Italy aren't all that poor, yet they don't seem to be adding a lot of articles to Wikipedia either.

      I'd say the weather has a part in that. I'd rather enjoy the countryside in the Toscana or a stroll and hangout outside in the town of Florence then go outside where it's raining constantly. Or at least way more often as it does in Italy and Spain. My time spent on the web would be less in those cou

  • Give them time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bazorg (911295) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:13AM (#38381140) Homepage

    Just like with all things, time and a compelling reason is needed to adopt new practices. My mother disliked it when computers were introduced in her job and after retirement was not interested in using the home PC for leisure purposes. When the nest became empty, Skype became a necessity. Last time I visited, she was looking at the camera and saying "hmmm, this photo is too dark but I'll adjust the brightness when I get home"...once at home she was complaining the computer was "too damn slow!" to get anything done...

  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:24AM (#38381190)
    I've been on the Internet since mid 80-ies. With the authority of experience -for what it's really worth- I can classify these 25% as the happy few.

    There still are ample media available for you to live an informed life without using the Internet.

    Personally I find the Internet an invaluable source of CS related information and a nifty tool to obtain good deals on purchases. I actually speak face to face with people I care about. Anything skin deep I ignore completely.

    I'm most likely not interested in your life story. The best times I have with actual people. CS is merely a hobby that happens to earn me a living. It took me a few mental leaps in the early stages to realise that graphical representations of bytes will never govern my life.
    • by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:51AM (#38381912)

      There still are ample media available for you to live an informed life without using the Internet.

      People with internet have invariably canceled their newspaper subscriptions. Once you drop the local newspaper, you've lost local news. The internet seriously does not provide the same sort of information availability for local coverage.

      So we now have large demographics that have no clue whats going on locally. I travel through the neighboring town and occasionally I see lawn-signs up saying "vote no!" You think my friends who live in that town have a clue what thats about? No, they don't. Not even a hint of an idea about it, which is probably why they dont bother to vote.

      I set up Google News to give me stories that mention my town, and that turns out to be nearly worthless. You simply wont find anything about that application for a liquor license, about the proposed repaving of west main street, about rezoning hill street and parker avenue, or about the shelter needing funds and volunteers desperately. Thats just whats going on this week.

      A generation worried about everywhere else.... out of sight, so out of mind. Whats going on in Far Away Place is now more important than whats going on in their own communities. They think the federal government is the solution to every problem because thats all they fucking know about.. they can go on worrying about crap on the other side of the planet that doesnt even affect them and that they also have no power to effect and when things turn sour locally they wonder why nobody (ie, the federal government) did anything about it.

  • We have National Rifle Association mailers and Fox News providing reliable information in lieu of the internet.
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:43AM (#38381480)
    some hillbilly christian types that have no internet, no cable TV, no landline telephone, they live way out of town, they believe the US Government is the "Beast" of Revelation (chapter 13) and the end of the world is going to happen before the end of this decade
    • by sgt scrub (869860)

      An teh monstar I saws It iz layk big spotteded kitteh, an It can has pawz layk bear, an It can has mout layk big neck-fur kitteh. An Teh dragn gaved it teh powurz an teh chairz an teh autoritiez. Revalashunz 13:2 [lolcatbible.com]

      Nonsense! The U.S. doesn't have spots. It has stripes!

    • You never know, maybe some of them used to be promising young mathematicians.
  • by Hentes (2461350) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:04AM (#38381558)

    The lack of Internet at home does not mean those people are disconnected. There are many people who only use the Internet at work, or go to a netcafe etc.

  • Real Relationships (Score:3, Interesting)

    by qualityassurancedept (2469696) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:58AM (#38381722) Journal
    As hard as it would be to imagine in the United States, there are still places on earth where people actually know each other and interact with each other in person. If some farming village in the middle of nowhere doesn't have internet access, then I wouldn't wish it upon them. For the most part the internet is a scourge. I would be more interested to know how people without the internet in their lives survive. In america you can't even get a job without going online, which is ridiculous. Poor people are not helped by technology. Rich people force poor people to use technology as a way of generating revenue from otherwise lost causes.
  • Broadband internet access enables higher speed when browsing and performing activities over the internet. The proportion of households with a broadband connection rose in all Member States in 2011 compared with 2006. Sweden (86%) registered the highest share of broadband connections in 2011, followed by Denmark (84%), the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (both 83%) and Finland (81%), while Romania (31%), Bulgaria (40%) and Greece (45%) had the lowest.

    Soooo the places where connectivity sucks people don't

    • by PARENA (413947)
      How is 25 euros a day worth 93 USD per month? I know the euro is doing bad, but not THAT bad. :P I think that decimal point should go one place to the right. :)

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