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Access to internet: a legal right?

WHYS Team WHYS Team | 13:52 UK time, Thursday, 1 July 2010

_48228424_607-2.jpg Finland has become the first country to make access to broadband a legal right for every citizen.

The Finnish deal means that from 1 July all telecommunications companies will be obliged to provide all residents with broadband lines that can run at a minimum speed of 1 megabit per second. The government has promised to connect everyone to a 100Mbps connection by 2015.

Finland's communication minister Suvi Linden insists that "Internet services are no longer just for entertainment." Around 96 per cent of Finns are already online - leaving only 4,000 homes needing connections to comply with the law.

So is access to internet now a legal right on a par with education and healthcare?

A BBC World Service survey earlier in the year found that 80% agree with Finland in seeing it as a right for all. And most bloggers around the world seem to think so too.

Catherine Arrow in New Zealand is just one who sees internet acces as vital:

Technology is a key enabler. It facilitates education, change, progress and problem solving. Access in itself is not a 'human right' but making it a 'legal right' certainly helps us all to improve the level of human rights around us.

But not everyone rates the internet so highly. Comments to this Business Week article are mixed. Rainer for one is unconvinced:

Many are content to never access the Internet. Just because you do, doesn't mean everyone else does. Yes, a lot do, but broadband is a "nice-to-have". It only becomes a "Need" when it is required for work, or some other important issue.

It seems for many the jury is still out.

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