The Internet….some global perspective

Digital world

The "world" wide web

As I write this, the FCC in the U.S. is about to release its National Broadband Plan which is sure to contain a variety of lofty numbers based on the “100 million with access to 100Mbps” phrase which keeps getting bandied about.  In fact the US government even has its own bandwidth measurement tool.  It’s great that they are thinking ahead and creating a road map.  For that, I applaud them.  Of course the question remains, will it pan out and will the people really benefit?  My biggest concern:  will it be affordable?

With the imminent release of that report, my first thought was: Canada, care to step up to the plate?  That’s when a recent survey by BBC World Service crossed my desktop.  A global study of more than 27,000 people that were asked a few simple but poignant internet related questions. Being from Canada and in internet related businesses for many years, I often take Internet access for granted, so I had to read on and find out more about how the rest of the world feels.

A few key findings jumped out at me right away.  The first being that only about half of those surveyed felt that the internet was a safe place where they could express their feelings.  What surprised me more was that Japan, France and Germany were some of the highest ranking countries in terms of not feeling safe expressing their opinions online.  I had expected countries with more oppressive governments to be higher ranked.  What is going on in these countries that I’m not aware of?

The next item that came as a real shock was that only 53% felt that no government anywhere should regulate the internet.  This particular topic is one that I hold close and strongly oppose any type of government meddling.  I wrongly assumed that the vast majority would feel the same way.  I didn’t have to look very far as even right here at home, Canadians responding to the survey had the majority accepting some type of internet regulation.

But, far and away the most intriguing statistic for me was that 79% agreed that access to the internet should be a fundamental right.  I had to stop and really let that sink in.  It truly shows how important the internet has become for people, for various reasons, all over the world.  The ability to research, learn and communicate has obviously had a staggering impact, one that I did not fully appreciate.  While I consider the internet an integral part of my life, one that, like many who responded to the survey indicated they might have a tough time coping without, I had never considered it to quite that extent.  As the world still grapples with maintaining basic human rights I can’t quite see the internet in that league.  Can you?

Delvinia

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