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Rich people are more likely to be online than poor people. This is the astonishing result of a survey commissioned by the US Federal Government, which is now getting its knickers in a twist about it being a race issue. Yes, these are the same people with their finger on 'the button.' Scary innit? Dubbed "the digital divide", this is quickly becoming one of the biggest economics and civil rights issues stateside. While one in four US households is online, black and hispanic households are less than half as likely to own a computer as white households. But rich black families are just as likely as rich white households to be surfing the net. So this is not a new phenomenon at all, just another example of how life is better when you have more money. Families on an income of more than $75,000 were more than 20 times as likely to be online than those at the bottom end of the scale, and they were nine times more likely to own a computer. Living in the sticks was also a significant disadvantage. The infrastructure is not up to the job -- access to high frequency transmission lines, and inefficient hook-ups are blamed for small town USA not being up and surfin'. Rural leaders say they have been left in digital dust. Presumably they are keeping an eye out for digital tumbleweed too. Technology groups are expected to use this survey to nudge congress towards easing restrictions on data transmission over the net and make investment easier, arguing that this will make it easier to give everyone access to the Web. ®

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