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Survey Shows Uncensored Internet Is Important To People

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

The last few years have witnessed suppression of online freedom throughout the world. The problem is not only restricted to countries rules by authoritarian regimes but also in developed countries which supposedly guarantee freedom of speech. However, if the results of a new survey are to be believed, people across the world are slowly but surely realizing the importance of uncensored internet. The survey was conducted by Pew Research Center which interviewed 40,786 people from 38 different countries to get their opinion on a range of topics including freedom of speech on the internet. While the survey was conducted between April-May’ 2015, its results were published only in the second half of November.

As per the results published by Pew Research, more than 50 percent of the surveyed people recognized the importance of free speech including having a free press and uncensored internet. United States led the charts with 71 percent of the American participants supporting freedom of expression, 67 percent backing free press while 69 percent voting for an uncensored internet. The US was closely followed by European and Latin American countries particularly Germany, Spain, Argentina and Chile where a majority of participants backed freedom of speech and uncensored internet. While Africa, Middle East and Asia fared poorly on these parameters, more then 30 percent of participants from these regions backed having an uncensored internet.

The survey results also demonstrate a significant difference of opinion between the number of internet users and non-users as far as the desire to experience uncensored internet was concerned. For instance, in Germany 74 percent of internet users backed online freedom whereas just 44 percent of non-users supported uncensored internet. Such difference of opinion existed not only in advanced, high-income economies but also in a number of developing countries. Among the countries where such difference of opinion existed; Senegal, France, Japan, Spain, United States, Australia, Israel, Brazil, Italy, Uganda and Burkina Faso topped the list with a gap of more than 20 percentage points.

Pew also reported a strong correlation between the number of Smartphone owners and the desire to experience an uncensored internet. The report suggests that online freedom is especially important to younger people who are more likely to use the medium as a form of expression. Pew also predicts that as the internet penetration increases around the world, the desire to experience an uncensored internet would grow along with it.

The survey results also show that United States is not the leader in Internet or Smartphone penetration. South Korea, Australia and Canada topped the list on these two parameters whereas United States stood fourth. Pew reports that South Korea had 100 percent cellphone penetration (with 88 percent participants admitting to owning a Smartphone) and 89 percent internet penetration while these two figures for Australia, Canada and United States stood at 94 (83 percent Smartphone owners) and 92 percent; 83 and 90 percent; and 91 (79 percent Smartphone owners) and 87 percent respectively.

While governments around the world are busy suppressing the voices of common people, the survey results clearly show that people are fed up of institutional clampdown of the internet. While uncensored internet looks like a pipe dream in most countries, the above survey results should provide some food for thought for the authorities.

April 13, 2016

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