Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"Overwhelming global public support for the idea that access to the Internet should be a human right also shows just how important the Internet has come to freedom of expression, freedom of association, social communication, the generation of new knowledge, and economic opportunity and growth," stated CIGI's Fen Hampson.  (Photo:  Yahoo! Accessibility Lab/cc/flickr)

Global Survey: Internet Access Should Be a Human Right

Without Internet accessibility for all, 'world's full potential for prosperity and innovation' will be stifled, think tank says

Andrea Germanos

An overwhelming majority of Internet users around the world—83 percent—believe that affordable access to the Internet should be considered a human right.

That was among the findings of a survey by the think tank Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and conducted by global research company Ipsos. The results were presented Monday in Ottawa, where the Global Commission on Internet Governance, an initiative by CIGI and Chatham House, is holding a two-day meeting.

"Overwhelming global public support for the idea that access to the Internet should be a human right also shows just how important the Internet has come to freedom of expression, freedom of association, social communication, the generation of new knowledge, and economic opportunity and growth," stated Fen Hampson, Director of CIGI’s Global Security & Politics Program.

"Right now, one third of the world's population is online but two-thirds of the world's population is not. Unless they are brought online, a world of Internet 'have and have-nots' will not only contribute to income inequality, but also stifle the world's full potential for prosperity and innovation," Hampson stated.

The survey findings echo a 2011 United Nations report (pdf) which declared that access to the Internet is a human right, a view also shared by the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee.

Among the other findings of the CIGI survey are that nearly two-thirds of respondents—who hail from countries including China, Pakistan, Tunisia and the United States—are more concerned today about online privacy than they were compared to a year ago, and 62 percent of users expressed concerns of government agencies from other countries spying on their digital activity.

The survey also found that sixty-four percent of respondents are concerned about governments censoring the Internet.

"There is a gaping trust deficit in the Internet as people around the globe increasingly worry that their online identities and communications will be compromised or stolen by those who operate in the dark recesses of the Internet," Hampson added. "Unless trust is restored in the Internet through creative governance innovations its real potential to promote human development and global prosperity will be severely compromised."

Earlier this years, Berners-Lee asked:  "In front of us are two roads—which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control—more and more surveillance?"

"Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it's so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?" he asked.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

160 Patient Advocates Demand Medicare Negotiation in Build Back Better Package

"We're confident that inclusion of comprehensive drug pricing reforms in the reconciliation package will lower prices, save lives, and ensure continued development of innovative new drugs."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Cartoonish Level Corrupt': As Dems Fight for Bold Agenda, Sinema to Fundraise With Its Corporate Opponents

"Sinema is setting her political future on fire," said one Democratic organizer. "If she doesn't change course drastically and soon, it will be too late."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Momentous Win': Years of Local Opposition Defeats PennEast Pipeline

Opponents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey cheer "cancellation of this unneeded, dangerous fracked gas pipeline."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amid Calls for Closure, House Dems Urge NYC Officials to End 'Inhumane Conditions' at Rikers

A dozen prisoners have died this year alone at the notoriously violent and overcrowded jail complex.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Quite Literally What Instigated the Tunisian Revolution': Outrage After NYC Food Vendor's Stall 'Trashed'

"The abuse of street vendors will continue until there is legislative change, creating a pathway for New York City's smallest businesses to formalize."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo