Saturday, March 13, 2010

Internet fundamental human right, say 96% of Koreans in BBC poll.

Earlier in the week BBC released the findings of a survey about internet usage:
Almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.

The survey - of more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries - found strong support for net access on both sides of the digital divide.

Countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens.

International bodies such as the UN are also pushing for universal net access.

You can view the findings in detail on this .pdf file. Ninety-six percent of the 1,002 South Koreans surveyed strongly agree or somewhat agree that "access to the internet should be a fundamental right of all people," the highest percentage of respondents from the 26 countries. 77% of Canadians, 76% of Americans, 80% of Britons, and 85% of Australians answered likewise. Sixty-seven percent of Japanese and 56% of Mexicans strongly disagreed with the statement "I can cope without the internet."

Here's a bit of the country profile for South Korea in the report, on page 13:
South Korean users are the most clearly opposed to government regulation of the internet—83 per cent agree it should never be regulated—and they are more wary than users in most other countries about expressing opinions online, with only 30 percent agreeing it is safe to do so.

Germany was the only country with a higher percentage of respondents saying it was unsafe to express opinions on the internet.

In South Korea, inevitably called "the most wired country on Earth" in the accompanying article, of course does have strong government control of the internet and the opinions expressed there. The real-name verification system is perhaps the best-known manifestation of this, a law in response to cyber-crime and cyber-bullying, two negative consequences of the ubiquity of the internet in "the most wired country on Earth." The Christian Science Monitor, interestingly, didn't pick up on that:
Maybe where censorship is highest is also where people most see the Internet as a basic right? But South Korea – one of the most-wired countries on the globe – blows a hole in that theory.

The Marmot's Hole recently posted that Reporters Without Borders named South Korea an "enemy of the internet" because
draconian laws are creating too many specific restrictions on Web users by challenging their anonymity and promoting selfcensorship.

I've written about the Korean internet a few times, looking at the good, the very good, and the not so good:
* 2010.02.08 - ""South Korea has world's fastest internet, US 18th, says State of Internet Report."
* 2009.11.24 - "In the Korea Herald, writing about the lessons learned from"
* 2009.11.23 - "A more Korean Google Korea coming next month."
* 2009.11.19 - "What was wrong with"
* 2009.08.26 - "US is 15 years behind South Korea's internet speed."
* 2009.03.30 - "Google Korea, YouTube Korea to begin real-name system April 1."
* 2008.08.19 - "Google Korea is upsetting Victorian sensibilities again."
* 2008.08.14 - "YouTube Korea in trouble?"


Peter said...

Interesting post, Brian. It's kind of surreal to think that something which didn't even exist when I was growing up is now considered a fundamental right by nearly 4 of 5 people around the world -- and I haven't even turned 30 yet.

Muckefuck said...

More people use the Internet in China than in Korea, so China is more wired than Korea.

Bob said...

So in Korea, the internet is a fundamental human right but being beaten by your teacher is a-ok? Talk about bread and circuses.

Puffin Watch said...

Human rights are ultimately rights we collectively accord each other. If a population wants to make internet access a right, hey, knock yourself out.

Muckefuck, there are two ways to slice that apple. Per capita and absolute. If the Muckefuck household makes $100,000 and the Puffin Watch household makes $90,000, the Muckefuck household has absolutely more money. But if Muckefuk household has 12 people and the Puffin Watch house hold has 1 person, my house hold is certainly richer by a per capita measure.

Brian said...

An article recently on the BBC website about a guy trying to find if Koreans could spend a week without the internet:

In Korea the internet isn't just a distraction, it's an integral part of life. Asking people to "turn off and plug out" isn't simply asking people to redistribute time, but rearrange their entire lifestyles.

See, Korea is advanced in this respect, not behind for spending so much time online.

Muckefuck said...

Puffin Watch

Thanks for the stats lesson.

My point was that the "Korea is the most wired country in the world" mantra is misleading.
It doesn't make sense to compare per capita figures between a country that has 1.4 billion and one that has 50 million.

Andrew said...

It could be so wired because of porn restrictions and the boredom of living in an urban apartment.

Puffin Watch said...

Thanks for the stats lesson.

You're more than welcome, Muckefuck. Happy to correct your error.

Why does it not make sense to use per capita figures? If SK was Monaco, well, that's one thing. But it's a nation of 50 million people. It's a middle power, a G20 nation and it's population size is pretty typical in terms of population size for about half members of the G20 (Italy, Canada, France, Spain, Belgium, etc.).