Why we need a legal right to offline access for essential services

<span>Photograph: Roman Lacheev/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Roman Lacheev/Alamy

This is not only an injustice for people who have difficulties with technology (‘It’s discrimination’: millions of Britons frozen out in the digital age, 26 November). Why should anyone, even if they can afford it, be forced to pay for broadband, a mobile contract, a laptop or a smartphone just so they can deal with private or public bodies? None of these are cheap, and it feels like a form of extortion, making people pay such amounts to carry out day-to-day functions.

Without online accounts and a smartphone, it is becoming impossible to deal with basics such as water and electricity supply, banking, council services and even the tax authorities. Online systems rarely address matters satisfactorily when they are the slightest bit out of the ordinary or when something goes wrong. They also usually require large amounts of personal information just to answer straightforward general inquiries.

We need a legal right to communicate with traders or officialdom in writing by post, and by telephone. But I’m not holding my breath: the government is among the worst for pushing everyone on to flaky online systems.
Peter Johnson

• Many thanks for your article – it is comforting to know there are others in the same boat. At 90, I am online (witness this letter, sent by email), but never feel confident in using the internet. When I phone my bank to check balances and transactions I keep getting an irritating automated plea saying: “Why not join the millions who do their banking online?” I don’t want to be one of the millions. Millions voted for Brexit and for this horrifying government. Please let us be individuals again and speak to humans and not silicon chips.
James Nelson
Chorley, Lancashire

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