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The digital divide is the gap between those who have regular, easy access to digital technology and those who do not. U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Larry Irving popularized the term digital divide in a series of technology reports in the 1990s. The term is primarily used to refer to the uneven distribution of Internet access, although other information technologies are sometimes included. The digital divide cuts across nations and across demographic groups within nations.

The digital divide generates great concern among governments, nongovernment agencies, and the private sector. In 2006, a Google search on “digital divide” turned up about 27 million entries. From an ethical perspective, the digital divide raises questions of distributive justice—the fair distribution of goods relative to ...

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