A euro a day gets you PC, Internet

France launching cheap loan program to get citizens to use Web to file government forms. But the potential is greater.

Here's one way to tackle the digital divide. Reuters reports that France will provide home computers, training, and high-speed connections to low-income households for a euro a day.

The government's aim is to get retirees and the unemployed to fill out forms online, thus saving the government money. The program starts in 2007 under a public-private partnership in which households take out loans on the equipment that they repay over three years.

What the story doesn't address - and presumably, neither does the French government - is what providing in-home Internet access could mean for France's vast unemployed, immigrant population. Think online job training, in-home data entry work, and the potential to vent frustration in blogs instead of taking it to the streets. Think online education, connection with relatives in their home countries, all of the reasons its worth bridging the digital divide.