Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness… and internet access

Four in five people around the world reckon internet access is their fundamental right, according to a poll conducted for BBC World Service.

The GlobeScan survey of more than 27,000 adults found that 87 per cent of those who used the internet felt that internet access should be “the fundamental right of all people.” Even non-internet users agreed, with more than seven in ten believing that they should have the right to access the web.

South Korea felt most entitled, with 96 percent agreeing, followed by Mexico with 94 percent and China with 87 percent.

Most web users enthused about the information available, the greater freedom the internet brings and social networking.

However, there was caution about expressing opinions online.Respondents were evenly split between those who felt that “the internet is a safe place to express my opinions” and those who disagreed.

For some reason, three-quarters of Germans felt they couldn’t express their opinions safely online, as did 70 percent of South Koreans and 65 percent of Japanese. Indians, Ghanaians and Kenyans felt most confident.

More than half of internet users feel that the internet should not be regulated by governments.

The poll also found that fraud was the aspect of the internet that caused people most concern, with 32 percent saying it was what worried them most.

GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller commented: “Despite worries about privacy and fraud, people around the world see access to the internet as their fundamental right. They think the web is a force for good, and most don’t want governments to regulate it.”