The shortcoming of this solution was the "digital divide" – only those with Internet connections could access the digitized documents. If most of the distribution went to government departments, other governments, businesses, or professionals, they already had or could readily acquire an Internet connection. Others less fortunate (lack of funds or lack of available interconnection points) began to claim they were being discriminated against. Hence began government sponsorship of attempts to expand access and/or provide it for free (via freenets or community portals), such as the widely successful Community Access Program in Canada, and similar programs in other countries. These programs are clear attempts to provide opportunities to engage all of the citizenry in the nation into the benefits of cyberspace through efforts to bridge the digital divide.
Many of the initial webification solutions were quite primitive, with poor information layout, inadequate navigation provisions, no support for the impaired, slow electronic responses, occasional disruptions in service, periodically outdated content, and little or no "back office" support. Criticism from a wide spectrum of users prompted improvements such as "common look and feel" standards, better information architecture, feedback provisions, and manual or dynamic content updating.
When people began to pay taxes and user fees online, fill in questionnaires, apply for jobs in the public service, send e-mails to elected officials or public servants, and download documents, they became somewhat more satisfied, and governments in turn could begin to call their Internet efforts a success. But as services improved, public expectations for online government capabilities increased. Now citizen users want (and get) search engines on government websites, responses to their e-mail queries within a set time limit, instant access to electronic public documents as soon as they are released, and opportunities to purchase chargeable information with a credit card or account. What else does the public want over the Internet that their governments could provide?
• Access by a person to all the personal data on that person that is held in government data banks. So far this is limited by security, privacy, and confidentiality concerns.
• Access to all government documentation of all kinds by anyone. At present the storage and retrieval costs are prohibitive, and there are also security, privacy, and confidentiality concerns here as well.
• Information architecture that permits one-stop-shopping for all information from all governments in a simple thematic directory. There are also cost constraints, and no known technology to integrate, index and search all of this information.