Is Internet access a human right? Top 10 nations that say yes.

Four out of 5 people worldwide say Internet access is a human right, according to a recent BBC poll. Even more than Americans, Chinese believe that to be true.

Courtesy of Richard Barrow
Panrit Gaoruang, who has blogs about Thai teens under the name of 'Gor,' writes at a historic site in Thailand.
Rich Clabaugh/Staff

Chinese believe more strongly than Americans that Internet access is a basic human right.

But Americans are more likely to search the Internet for a girlfriend or boyfriend, according to a recent BBC poll of 27,000 people across 26 nations.

IN PICTURES: Top 10 countries that say Internet access is a basic right

Perhaps because Americans can surf a number of websites cordoned off by the great Chinese Fire Wall – from the Dalai Lama’s personal web page to the Internet Movie Database – more Chinese (87 percent) see the Internet as a fundamental human right than do Americans (76 percent).

Worldwide, 79 percent of all Web users say access to the Internet should be a fundamental right. (Read the full report here.)

That ranks China as the world’s 8th most ardent believer in Internet access as a basic right, while America falls in the middle of the pack.

The data implies that Chinese citizens support US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's blunt condemnation of China’s strict Internet censorship in January, when she pledged to help citizens jump the “Great Fire Wall” that blocks access to tens of thousands of websites.

"Governments should not prevent people from connecting to the Internet, to websites, or to each other," Clinton said. "The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyber space."

Korea leads, Japan lags

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.

No one is a more ardent believer in the Internet than South Korea, where 96 percent of Web users say Internet access should be a fundamental right. The only European nations to make the top 10 list were Turkey and Portugal.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, only 1 in 3 Pakistanis say Internet access should be a fundamental right. Other countries where people show little interest in Internet rights: Kenya, Indonesia, Egypt, and Japan – the only industrialized nation on the bottom five.

The poll also found that most Internet users say the web should not be regulated by governments. More than half agreed that “the Internet should never be regulated by any level of government anywhere.”

Matchmaker or news?

The most wired countries avoid the Internet as way to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. Instead, they look to the web as a source of information. Developing nations like India and Pakistan, on the other hand, do hold high hopes for finding a partner while surfing the web.

Three out of 5 Pakistanis and Indians say the Internet is a good place to find a boyfriend or girlfriend, compared to only 1 out of 5 Koreans and Chinese.

IN PICTURES: Top 10 countries that say Internet access is a basic right

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