As Government Information Moves Online, Millions of Americans Disconnected and Left Behind
Report Calls for the Government Printing Office to Receive Adequate Funding
to Perform Its Duties
WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Ralph Nader’s Center for Study of Responsive Law today released a new report, The Peoples’ Printer: Time for a Reawakening, by Tom W. Ryan with Jeff Musto. In the midst of the digital information age, this report reveals the shortfalls of a Government Printing Office (GPO) that focuses on online information at the expense of print media.
Speaking about the report, Nader said, “With government information increasingly moving online, unconnected Americans are being left behind. These people are often the most vulnerable and isolated members of our society – the poor, the elderly, and the rural.”
A 2012 report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project that shows 22 percent of Americans over the age of 18 don’t use the internet. This equates to 50 million people.
“For over 150 years, since President Abraham Lincoln took office, the Government Printing Office has played a vital role in disseminating information about the government to Americans. As the GPO moves information online, the digital divide between connected and unconnected Americans is widening. This threatens the GPO’s self-proclaimed mission to ‘keep America informed,’” said Nader.
The GPO’s efforts to put an increasing amount of government information online takes a huge step forward in making this information more accessible than ever to Americans with internet access. An unfortunate consequence of the shift away from print media, however, is that Americans who remain offline are increasingly disconnected from their government. The Peoples’ Printer paints a troubling picture of who is being left behind:
- 32.1 % of Americans making less than $15,000 per year had high-speed internet access in their home, compared to nearly 90 % of Americans making $150,000 or more annually.
- 49 % of black Americans and 51 % of Hispanic Americans have access to broadband internet at home, compared to 66 % of white Americans.
- 94 % of Americans aged 18 to 29 were internet users, while only 41 % of Americans 65 years or older were.
Speaking about the recommendations for reform contained in the report, Nader concluded, “This vision emphasizes the vital role that the Government Printing Office could play in keeping all of America informed, not just those with online access. There are great benefits in making information available online; but if we shift in this direction oblivious to the unintended consequences, we risk losing an invaluable resource.”
A full copy of the report is available at csrl.org and printed copies are available for $10 plus postage.
SOURCE Center for Study of Responsive Law