Schr�der Plans Big Offensive on the Internet

[Berlin, GERMANY] Mastering the Internet is to be part of general education
in Germany within the next few years – regardless of citizens’ income and
social background. That is the goal of a 10 point program to be presented by
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) at the Expo in Hanover today according to
information in the Berliner Zeitung. At an Initiative D21 conference,
Schröder will pledge that every school in the country will be equipped with
personal computers and Internet access by next year. Furthermore, all public
libraries will receive access to the Internet free of charge. Also, the
Chancellor wants to promote the sponsoring of PC’s for schools and other
educational institutions by businesses.

According to the newspaper, beginning in October, employment offices are to
offer every unemployed person the requisite basic skills for working
with the global data network through an “Internet license.” The Berliner
Zeitung was also informed that the Chancellor wants to guarantee every
employee freedom from taxes for using the Internet privately on employers’
computers – the Federal Ministry of Finance had been considering viewing
this as a monetary advantage similar to wages and charging income tax.
What’s more, Schroder wants to do away with another tax ambiguity when
using the Internet in the course of performing one’s job: in the future,
employees who use their private personal computer largely for business
purposes should be able to claim it on their tax return as an income related
expense, as long as it has Internet access.

According to the program, which the federal government wants to promote
together with states and counties, the bureaucracy is to be brought into
the Internet as well. All federal services which can be conducted through
the Internet are to be made available online by 2005. As such, it is planned
that in the future federal student aid can be handled electronically from
the application to repayment. According to Schröder, Germany cannot afford
to waste talent. He wants to avoid people being cut off from the Internet
just because they don’t possess the financial ability or skills.

News Around the Web