Claims for Internet as “Right” for Citizens are Spreading Worldwide     Print Email

Global Poll Offers New Proof of Web’s Widening, Deepening Societal Role

Nearly 80 percent of people around the world think that access to the internet should be a “fundamental right,” according to a global poll conducted by the BBC World Service.  Covering 26 countries, it surveyed 27,000 adults, including both internet users and people not using the web. The survey showed that str(79 percent) answered “yes” to a question on people’s entitlement to internet access  – a view implying both a demand for the expansion of high-speed broadband telecommunications infrastructure and also opposition to unreasonable charges or censorship on users.

Coming on the eve of an important broadband report by the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S., the poll data confirm the growing impact of internet service on all social and professional categories in countries around the world. And the new findings underscore trends explained by telecom regulators from the U.S. and Britain to European Institute seminar in December, reported  by “European Affairs.”

Countries where very, very high proportions of the population said that they  regarded internet access as a fundamental right included South Korea (96 per cent),  Mexico (94 per cent) and China (87 percent ) – all countries where the internet often serves as a major alternative to other media. The percentages were less high in Europe and the U.S., but they were still substantial. In the U.S., the poll found, 51 percent of respondents view internet access as a fundamental right. In Germany, the corresponding number was 51 per cent,  France 40 per cent, and Britain 56%.

Finland is the only country to date that has mandated broadband access to its citizens as a matter of right.  In June of this year, every Finn will have the guaranteed right to a one megabit-per-second connection to the internet – and the speed will rise to 100 mbps by 2015.

By Bill Marmon

 
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UMD Jean Monnet Research Project

The University of Maryland has received a Jean Monnet grant from the EU to conduct a series of policy exchanges between Europe and the US on filling infrastructure needs and the utility of public/private partnerships as the financing mechanism. If interested in participating in or receiving more information about these exchanges, please contact Rye McKenzie (rmckenzi@umd.edu).

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