Internet for all?
We all have fundamental rights - the right to vote, the right to have freedom of thought, the right to have freedom of speech, if you're an American - the right to bear arms and shoot things. But is the right to get online and browse for LOLcats also a fundamental right?
According to four out of five people it is, according to a BBC World Service poll. Perhaps it is because it is a place where you can buy or say anything you want, a place where you can see anything you want - a last bastion of free will if you want (unless you're in China), but according to more than 27,000 adults in 26 countries the right to surf the net is a legitimate 'fundamental right'.
Some countries agree also, with Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens. Even the UN are pushing for universal access to the Internet.
"The right to communicate cannot be ignored," Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), told BBC News.
"The Internet is the most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created."
He said that governments must "regard the Internet as basic infrastructure - just like roads, waste and water".
"We have entered the knowledge society and everyone must have access to participate."
Roads, waste, water... Facebook?
In this 'information age', you can see why many would see the Internet as a right, but a fundamental right? Up there with freedom of speech, the right to vote etc? For this writer, that may be pushing it just a bit.
That means everyone has access to the web, criminals, sex offenders, anyone simply because 'it's a fundamental right'. The Internet has already become a haven for many criminals and online sex offences or cases of 'grooming' regularly make the news, so if Internet access is a right, should it be regulated to prevent such abuse?
According to the poll, web users questioned in South Korea and Nigeria felt strongly that governments should never be involved in regulation of the Internet however some disagree.
China (what a surprise!) and several European countries including the UK believe that there is a case for 'government regulation' of the Internet. In fact, 55 percent of those polls agreed that the Internet should be properly regulated.
This will be welcome news to many governments, especially the UK's, who have been trying to push a controversial, three-strikes policy, Digital Economy Bill designed to allow regulators to disconnect or slow down the net connections of persistent illegal file-sharers. Other countries, such as France, are also considering similar laws.
The EU in particular has focused a lot on Internet freedom, stating that any measures taken by member states that may affect citizen's access to or use of the Internet "must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens".
In particular, it states that EU citizens are entitled to a "fair and impartial procedure" before any measures can be taken to limit their net access.
With more and more people conducting their lives online, it is unsurprising that people want a degree of privacy and at the same time regulation, but should it be a "fundamental right of all people".
87 percent of Internet users unsurprisingly think so... what do you think?
Read the full report here.
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