A poll conducted by GlobeScan for the BBC World Service found that nearly four out of five respondents think access to the Internet is a fundamental right. BBC News reports that the results are the same "on both sides of the digital divide." Moreover, both those who currently have access and those who currently do not agree that Internet access is a right.
Dr. Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, told BBC News that governments should "regard the internet as basic infrastructure - just like roads, waste and water...We have entered the knowledge society and everyone must have access to participate."
That's why countries like Finland and Estonia have declared Internet access a human right, the story says. That's why the U.S. is working on a National Broadband Plan, and why the European Union recently adopted an Internet freedom provision, which provides, in part that citizens are entitled to a "fair and impartial procedure" before their access can be limited.
Opinions do vary, however, on exactly how much the government should be able to regulate the Internet. Thus, the UK's proposed Digital Economy Law, which would, among other things, slow down or disconnect the access of those people determined to be "persistent illegal file-sharers," is causing a fuss. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission's proposed net neutrality regulations have also triggered vigorous debate.