Speaking after January's Google-China standoff
, Hillary Clinton declared
the "freedom to connect" to be among the basic human freedoms. This week, 27,000 participants in a BBC poll
affirmed her declaration. Four out of five respondents to a BBC survey agreed that Internet access is
a fundamental right. However, the study also revealed that opinions on Internet regulation varied from country to country, with nations like
South Korea and Nigeria representing the most libertarian while China
and European countries came down in favor of necessary government regulations.
such as Mexico, Brazil and Turkey most strongly support the idea of net
access as a right, the survey found... More than 90% of those surveyed
in Turkey, for example, stated that internet access is a fundamental
right - more than those in any other European Country. South Korea -
the most wired country on Earth - had the greatest majority of people
(96%) who believed that net access was a fundamental right. Nearly all
of the country's citizens already enjoy high-speed net access. ...
However, many web users also expressed
concerns. The dangers of fraud, the ease of access to violent and
explicit content and worries over privacy were the most concerning
aspects for those questioned. A majority of users in Japan, South Korea
and Germany felt that they could not express their opinions safely
online, although in Nigeria, India and Ghana there was much more
confidence about speaking out.
at Hot Air offers a snarling retort to the concept of Internet access as a "right":
would agree that free speech is a fundamental right. I would also
agree that health care is a critical concern for every human being, and
that each should plan accordingly for it. But to call Internet access
a fundamental human right is not just wrong, but completely
absurd. What did we do before broadband -- live in complete isolation
and tyranny? Do parents who restrict Internet access from their
children commit some sort of abuse for being safe? The only point
proven in this study is that 80% of adults in the West have no real
concept of what rights are or from where they originate.
Finland and Estonia have already ruled that Web access is a human right for their citizens. The UN and other international bodies are pushing for universal net access. Is
the freedom to surf a fundamental right, and if so, how much regulation is too much?
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
jkeller at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.