The United Nations Human Rights Council officially declared Internet access and online freedom of expression a human right in July 2012. According to the results of an extensive survey published this week, the majority of the world's citizens agree.
The CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and conducted by global research company Ipsos, surveyed more than 23,000 Internet users across 24 countries between Oct. 7. and Nov. 12. The report [PDF] found that 83% of users believe affordable access to the Internet should be a basic human right.
As might be expected, people living in the developing world and regions where nations often face censorship agree more broadly than regions where Internet access has become more or less standard. In fact, 90% of survey respondents in the Middle East and Africa believe Internet access is a human right.
In North America, 76% of people believe Internet access should be a human right — however, only 36% "strongly agree," while 40% "somewhat agree." The report didn't elaborate on the exact differences between the two statements.
Over the years, several high-profile people have criticized the idea that everyone is entitled to the Internet. Vint Cerf, often dubbed one of the "fathers of the Internet," wrote a 2012 op-ed in The New York Times, stating, "Technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself."
Brian Schepis, formerly of Google and now of SpaceX, wrote in the Canadian Journal of Politics and Law that the denial of Internet access "should be seen as a potentially urgent threat to a more basic list of human rights, namely the human right to assembly..."
Various human rights organizations offered rebuttals to these claims; Amnesty International, for example, called Cerf's view of human rights "exceptionally narrow."
The following chart, created by Statistics portal Statista, illustrates the regions containing the survey's 24 participating countries, and the percentages of people who strongly and somewhat agree that Internet access should be a human right.
Tags: HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNET ACCESS, SOCIAL GOOD, SOCIAL GOOD CHART, US & World, WORLD