The Undesirable Tyranny of “On Line “ Filing Requirements”. 2021

           Increasingly to function adequately an “On Line” capability is required.  This involves expensive equipment, e.g. smart phones and lap top computers.

          This requirement is wrong because it increasingly marginalizes the economically disadvantaged, the unemployed, those out of reach of WiFi and cell phone coverage, the disabled, those at society’s bottom, and those who work but who lack the desire or ability to function with society’s increasing technological demands.  In other words, “On Line” filing requirements by business and/or government are exclusionary and discriminatory.  

          Thus, on their face, requirements for exclusively “On Line” filing, applications, or processes should be illegal.  Therefore legislatures and Congress should make any and all exclusively ”On Line” filing requirements illegal.

       This means there should be no rewards, no requirements, and no discounts for the “ On Line” filing for anything.  Of course, there is the societal or environmental benefit of reducing paper consumption and the speed entailed with automatic approvals and processes, but this benefit should never trump the benefit of being more inclusive and open.

          For completing any number of tasks “On Line” communication is quick, efficient, and economical.  But what is good and manageable for the majority often will not benefit a large minority.   And what is good and easy for private and public administrative staff is not necessarily good for the public.  The job of government or private administrative staff is to serve their customers or the public, not to operate in a more efficient but exclusionary fashion.

          For example, let’s take a group most would profess to care about—-those with no fixed residence, no job, no car, no smart phone, and no computer.  Or let’s look at those recently released from jail.   Persons in such situations might desire to enter the mainstream including working but if: 

  1. Only “On Line”  employment applications are acceptable when applying for jobs; 
  2. Only “On Line” applications are acceptable when applying for any number of social service assistance programs; 
  3. Only “On Line” applications are acceptable when enrolling in academic classes or vocational training programs,                           
  4. Only “On Line” communication is acceptable when interacting with taxing bodies or other government authorities,                       . How do such policies assist those people with the most need of what is being offered?  Why should “over the counter” applications be prohibited? Thus, we need approval, admission, ratification, or validation procedures to be set as if the whole electronic system has failed and where paper communication is the only means of functioning.  Then we’d have a more fair system plus we’ll provide for the inevitable disaster or contingency planning always needed but not incorporated often enough into our systems.          

          Our priority must be to serve taxpayers, constituents, the public, consumers, and the disadvantaged, not government or company managers and staff who may seemingly benefit from the cost savings of eliminating having real people involved in approval processes, public interaction, and/or communication.

           It is guaranteed that a perpetuation of the electronic tyranny many have come to accept will exacerbate not ameliorate our current seemingly unsolvable social problem of a large population being left out and staying left out.

Brent Thompson

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