Headlines: September 14th, 1999

Findings from the People’s Panel, set up by the Cabinet Office last year,
raised fears of resistance from businesses and private citizens to dealing
electronically with public services. The Prime Minister’s appeal to
business to make use of the Internet, the appointment of an e-envoy and
publication of an OFTEL survey show that resistance to technology is

Tony Blair urged British industry to make the leap into online trading or
face the prospect of losing business to international competition. He said
that failure to look at the Internet as an opportunity would turn it into a
threat. He also predicted that in two or three years time the Internet will
be as commonplace in the office as the telephone.

Alex Allan, a former High Commissioner to Australia who also spent five
years as Mr Blair’s principal private secretary has been appointed as the
UK’s first e-envoy. His job will be to encourage business to make greater
use of technology.

The OFTEL survey shows that Internet use in the residential market has more
than doubled from seven per cent to 18 per cent since 1997. One in ten
residential consumers said that they intended to get a mobile phone or
connect to the Internet in the next six months. From the survey it has been
predicted that nine million Britons will be on the Internet by the end of