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Four Out of Five See Internet Access As a Fundamental Right

Gordon Kelly


Four Out of Five See Internet Access As a Fundamental Right

It is important when working on a tech site to remember that sometimes (often?) the rest of the World isn't quite so enthusiastic about the latest technological breakthroughs. Thankfully though we all seem to agree on one thing...

A massive survey conducted by GlobeScan for the BBC has found four out of five people across the Globe believe Internet access to be a fundamental right. This startlingly progressive picture was built up from polling over 27,000 adults from 26 countries and backs up the actions of Finland and Estonia which have already declared it as such for their citizens.

"The right to communicate cannot be ignored," said Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to BBC News. "The internet is the most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created... {governments must} regard the Internet as basic infrastructure - just like roads, waste and water. We have entered the knowledge society and everyone must have access to participate."

As the most wired country on the planet, South Korea unsurprisingly topped the poll with 96 per cent of those surveyed believing Internet access is a fundamental right while Mexico, Brazil and Turkey topped 90 per cent. In the UK 87 per cent of Internet users also agreed with even 70 per cent of non-users saying access should be available to all.

Biggest concerns were fraud, privacy, violence and explicit content (almost 80 per cent) with state censorship and the extent of corporate presence tallying less than 10 per cent. Worryingly in this picture the majority of respondents in Japan, South Korea and Germany didn't believe they could express their opinions freely online. Funnily enough Nigeria was one of the most relaxed countries about this, despite being infamous for online fraud.

All in all the poll does make for surprisingly positive reading, though I would argue the huge disadvantages faced by those who lack Internet access are an equally important motivator for all to have it.

How do you all feel? Has the Internet reached the same core value as roads, waste and water or are we all simply getting carried away?


via BBC News

Full Poll Results (Warning: Pdf link)


March 8, 2010, 7:44 pm

Interesting article.

Made me wonder though, was it an online survey? If so, I'd imagine the majority to be pro-internet! :)


March 8, 2010, 7:51 pm

@Mik3yB - good point, that was disclosed. It couldn't be solely online though if "70 per cent of non-users" had their opinions taken.


March 8, 2010, 7:57 pm

Maybe the authors of the Digital Britian report should pay more attention to this than what Mr Mandlesons friends want?


March 8, 2010, 8:03 pm

I think with the advent of Broadband it has become as essential as those examples above. Simply put with internet you can:

-Write to friends and family all over the world without waiting for the message to be sent and received.

-Call up friends and family all over the world and actually see the people you are speaking too as well.

-Organise your bank account and bill payments.

-Buy food/ products from anywhere in the world.

-Watch TV and Movies when you want to.

-Play games with people (friends or foe)from around the world.

-Share videos/ pictures of various nature to everyone else in the world.

-Voice you own views about whatever it is you want.

...and so on and so on...

It has become so ingrained in the way that we live our lives that, yes, you are seen as 'poorer' or 'out of touch' if you say you don't have or use the internet. The very fact that I write this here on this website knowing that other people will post their own comment on this subject is testament to the fact that people do give a damn about the internet.

Neil B

March 8, 2010, 8:31 pm

I'm sorry but this is ridiculous (and this is coming from someone who works in IT). Agreed, the internet is a wonderful thing and greatly enriches our lives, but could we live without it, certainly. To put it in the same bracket as having running water and electricity some people need to take a look at their lives I think. Without the internet, what's the worst that would happen? We'd have to actually go in to a branch of our banks, actually phone people and speak to them instead of posting on facebook, buy the occasional gentleman's mag. Compare that to if we had no clean running water...


March 8, 2010, 8:34 pm

Haven't the BBC just cut their online budget?


March 8, 2010, 8:59 pm

Have to agree with @Neil B. I spend a ridiculous amount of my time and money online and I do find my occasional offline days a struggle to get through. But to describe it as a fundamental right? Think we need some perspective.


March 8, 2010, 9:10 pm

@Neil, I think this is meant as one of the things you need to participate in a modern society, but if you had to rank them in importance it would surely be found at the bottom.

i.e it is not meant AS important, but important none the less.


March 8, 2010, 9:40 pm

@ Neil. You are right in the grand scheme of things the internet would be near the bottom of 'essentials' if not at the bottom. But as Jonas pointed out it's all relative. Clean water would be the only real essential that any society would require as people have/ and do live quite well without electricity in other parts of the world.

I think the internet is simply a tool which gives us the means to do things that have been mentioned already. Just like electricity gives us the means to power our devices that are part of our present day lives in a modern society. I bet no-one here would do quite happily live without the internet in any part of our lives (work or home) much less be able to debate this point freely as we do now. In censored countries such as China or Iran it can be seen as the only outlet for people who have so much to say but little freedom to do so.

In terms of facebook and lads mags, err...yes you have that but I was thinking of youtube and interfacelift. Making video calls also is a lot more involving when your are speaking to family half-way across the world (plus it's a lot cheaper).


March 9, 2010, 1:08 am

Internet access is a fundamental right on a par with roads? Well that doesn't bode well, since our Government (national and local) doesn't seem to think we have any right to properly maintained roads...


March 9, 2010, 5:07 pm

i think given the choice of either having my water or internet cut off for a week i'de choose the water.my connection was off over the weekend,i have never been so depressed ended up having to watch weekend tv instead.

people go camping in the woods for a fortnight but i bet they take a laptop with them.

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