The UK Parliament says internet service should now be classed as a utility, ranking it alongside essential services like gas and electricity.
The calls came in a report on Digital Skills in the UK titled ‘Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future’, published by a House of Lords Select Committee.
The report details how people are becoming increasingly dependent on the internet for everyday activities like ‘shopping, using a telephone, and banking’.
“We must aspire for the vast majority of the population to achieve the level of digital literacy needed to fully participate in society,” reads the report.
“All of this will require universal access to the internet to engage with vital public and personal services.”
“That is why we conclude that the Government should define the internet as a utility service, available for all to access and use.”
Although the UK currently has widespread internet access, there is no definitive legal mandate that assures access for every member of society.
“Digital technology is changing all our lives, work, society, and politics,” wrote the committee. “It brings with it huge opportunities for the UK, but also significant risks.”
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The report went on to describe what it called a ‘real concern’ that the UK could be left behind in the new digital age, suggesting we are at a ‘tipping point’.
“Digital businesses can locate anywhere in the world, and if we fail to provide the right conditions for them to flourish in the UK, we will become a branch economy, much less prosperous and influential than we could be.”
The Select Committee then reiterated the need for a ‘proactive Government’, requesting a cohesive Digital Agenda is prioritised to ensure the UK ‘survives and thrives’.