Venice promises free Internet access from birth

The announcement was made as the Italian city was battling with serious flooding last week.

Newborns will receive a user ID and password entitling them to free Internet access at the same time as they get their birth certificate, the city council said.

"The resident's new digital identity will give free access to the Web, because we consider that's an important universal right," said Michele Vianello, Venice's deputy mayor.

The city will incorporate security and authentication technologies into the resident's digital identity as soon as a reliable system becomes available, Vianello said. "That technology is not yet there, but as soon as it is, Venice intends to be the first to deploy it," he said.

The cabling the city for broadband is expected to be completed by the middle of next year. Forty-six miles of fiber-optic cable are being laid and there will be 600 Wi-Fi hotspots providing free access to the Web for local residents, the council spokeswoman said.

The city has asked young people aged between 14 and 25 to contact local authorities via the Venice municipal Web site site to express their preferences for the geographic locations of the hotspots.

"We could have decided on our own, but we preferred to ask young people where they wanted the hotspots, because we wanted to give a real sense of the democracy that comes with the Web," Vianello said.

No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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