Poll: Internet Access Should Be A “Fundamental Right”

A new poll of more than 27,00 adults in some 26 countries conducted by GlobeScan for the BBC World Service finds that nearly four out of five respondents believe access to the Internet should be treated as a fundamental right. A few countries—notably Estonia and Finland—have already codified the idea, but the survey underscore the importance people around the world place on Internet access…and may help bolster efforts by groups like the United Nations to push for universal rights to Internet access.

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Overall, some 78 percent of survey respondents believed the Internet gave them greater freedom, and a stunning 9 out of ten believed the Web was a good place to learn. Respondents in the United States felt the Internet enabled greater freedom; American respondents also felt more confident than average about expressing their opinions online. A majority of users in Japan, Germany, France, and South Korea felt they could not safely express their opinions online; however, respondents in India, Ghana, and Nigeria were very confident about being able to speak out.

Respondents in China and South Korea were particularly adamant that Web access be considered a fundamental right; however, a majority of respondents in China and many European nations felt that governments should be involved in Internet regulation. Respondents in South Korea and Nigeria were least likely to see government regulation of the Internet as a good thing.

The survey may also reveal how dependent many people are becoming on Internet access: in Mexico, Russia, and Japan roughly three quarters of respondents said they could not cope without the Internet.

Online fraud topped respondents’ concerns about Internet user, followed by the availability of violent and explicit content, and loss of privacy.