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Web czar: 'Drag your nan online'

Would you give up an hour to get mates and family online?

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The UK's digital champion Martha Lane Fox has launched a campaign to get the 30 million people in the country who use the internet to help the 8.7 million who still haven't gone online onto the web in the free hour when the clocks change.

The 'Give an hour' campaign aims to narrow the digital divide by getting web-surfers to help their friends and family members who aren't up to speed with the web to get started during the "extra" hour on Sunday when British Summer Time ends.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that around 8.7 million people in the UK had never used the internet by the second quarter of this year.

Staying offline often means missing out on job opportunities, either because they're only advertised online or because being net-savvy is part of the role, and losing out on money-saving, such as paying bills online or buying products from internet shops.

Lane Fox, who co-founded Lastminute.com, is teaming up with BBC luminaries on the campaign, as well as high street shops like John Lewis, post offices and libraries, with progress marked at the website go-on.co.uk.

"If someone you know is missing out on the internet, they're missing out on loads of ways to make their life easier and more enjoyable," she said. "I believe there is both a moral and social case for sustained local assistance to help offline residents across the UK develop web skills."

According to research conducted for the BBC, friends and families "play an integral role in inspiring and helping others to get online".

"Of people in the UK who know someone who doesn't use the internet, 86 per cent say they are 'quite likely' or 'very likely' to help someone get online," the Beeb said in its canned statement on the campaign.

The BBC has just started a three-week promo on TV and radio networks to help reduce the number of people offline, and also has a special film on its Give an Hour website featuring celebrities including Stephen Fry and Christopher Eccleston supporting the campaign. ®

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