The Home Office is planning to give some prisoners access to e-mails and limited use of the internet.
Inmates at Wandworth prison will be taught courses over the internet
A pilot project, which is still on the drawing board, may be implemented first at Wandsworth prison in south London.
Inmates will be able to take internet education courses, but they will not be allowed to use search engines.
The project will go ahead only after mechanisms "to prevent potential abuses are in place", a Home Office spokesman said.
The plan, which was published in a strategy document last month, specified that prisoners will only be able to correspond with pre-approved addresses.
All messages will be monitored and stored and the e-mails cannot carry any attachments or pictures.
A spokesman for the Home Office said: "The National Offender Management Service is looking at how to provide a secure IT infrastructure to facilitate internet-delivered learning courses in seven London prisons.
"While the internet will be used as a delivery mechanism, all that any individual prisoner will have access to is the specific training course that the education department of the prison has explicitly assigned them."
The internet has been off-limits for prisoners as officials fear it may help inmates plan escapes or give sex offenders access to inappropriate material.