More than three-quarters see Internet as right: report

More than three-quarters of people across the world believe access to the Internet is a fundamental right, a poll carried out for the BBC indicated Monday.

The poll, which questioned more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries, suggested strong support globally for access to the web.

The findings come as efforts are stepped up across the world to increase net access, with the United Nations leading a push for more people to be given the opportunity to get online.

Countries including Finland and Estonia have already ruled it is a human right, said the BBC.

"The right to communicate cannot be ignored," Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, told the broadcaster.

"The Internet is the most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created."

Almost 79 percent of those questioned said they strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the description of the Internet as a "fundamental right of all people." This included people who had access and those who did not.

A total of 87 percent of Internet users questioned in the poll, carried out by GlobeScan for the BBC, felt access should be a right, while more than 70 percent of non-users agreed with this view.

Mexico, Brazil and Turkey were among countries where support was highest, according to the survey.

The findings also suggested people in a diverse range of countries felt the web was a vital part of their lives. Three-quarters in Japan, Mexico and Russia said they could not cope without it.

South Korea, where nearly all citizens enjoy high-speed net access, had the greatest majority of people - 96 percent - who believed access was a fundamental right.

The US Treasury Department on Monday eased sanctions on Iran, Cuba and Sudan to allow exports by US companies of services related to Web browsing, blogging, email, instant messaging, chat, social networking and photo- and movie-sharing.

"We're supporting the right of free expression," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday

The decision to allow exports of Web tools to Iran was intended to allow Iranians to "communicate without being blocked by their own government", she explained.

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