Net a "Fundamental Right," 4 Out of 5 Say

Do you feel that Internet access is a fundamental right? Four in five adults in more than 26 different countries agree with you, according to a new poll sponsored by the BBC World Service. The poll asked more than 27,000 adults about their attitudes towards the Internet, and found that 87 percent of those who regularly use the Internet believe that access should be “the fundamental right of all people.” More than 71 percent of non-Internet users also felt that they should have the right to access the global network. In both South Korea and Mexico, more than 90 percent of those surveyed agreed that access was a fundamental right.

The survey found that most web users are positive about the Internet: close to 80 percent said they felt it had brought them greater freedom, 90 percent said they thought it was a good place to learn, and just over 50 percent said they enjoyed spending their time on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. However, some expressed concern as well, with almost half saying they did not agree with the statement that “the Internet is a safe place to express my opinions.” Germany (with 72 percent) and South Korea (70 percent) had the highest proportion who felt the Internet was not a safe place.

According to the poll, most users believe that the Internet should not be regulated by governments. More than half of the Internet users surveyed said that “the Internet should never be regulated by any level of government anywhere,” including large proportions of the population in South Korea (83 percent), Nigeria (77 percent), and Mexico (72 percent). A large number of those surveyed said that they didn’t think they could cope without the Internet, including 84 percent of those polled in Japan and 81 percent of those in Mexico.

Those who were surveyed in the United States were more likely than the average to say the Internet has given them freedom (85 percent compared to 78 percent worldwide). They were also among the most likely to say that they feel able to express this freedom in speech, with 55 percent (compared to 48 percent worldwide) agreeing that the Internet is a safe place to express their opinions.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Flickr user Stefan

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