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 ifriendly.kr."
* 2009.11.23 - "A more Korean Google Korea coming next month."
* 2009.11.19 - "What was wrong with ifriendly.kr?"
* 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?"