Survey shows 83% believe Internet access should be a basic human right

By Lucas Mearian

An international survey of Internet users has found that more than 39% have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a result of spying revelations by one-time NSA employee Edward Snowden.

The survey, conducted by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), found that 43% of Internet users now avoid certain websites and applications and 39% change their passwords regularly.

The survey reached 23,376 Internet users in 24 countries and was conducted between Oct. 7 and Nov. 12.

The countries in the survey included Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan and the United States.

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Centre for International Governance Innovation

Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed indicated they are taking steps to safeguard their online data from government prying eyes.

Cryptographer and computer security specialist Bruce Schneier lamented how the survey’s findings have been portrayed, with some pointing out how few people were affected by Snowden’s actions or even know his name.

“The press is mostly spinning this as evidence that Snowden has not had an effect: “merely 39%,” “only 39%,” and so on,” Schneier wrote in a blog.

The news articles, “are completely misunderstanding the data,” Schneier said, pointing to the fact that the survey found that 39% of Internet users in the world have heard of Snowden.

Snowden’s whistleblowing on the NSA is having an enormous impact, Schneier wrote.

“I ran the actual numbers country by country, combining data on Internet penetration with data from this survey. Multiplying everything out, I calculate that 706 million people have changed their behavior on the Internet because of what the NSA and GCHQ [a British intelligence and security organization] are doing.

Two-thirds (64%) of users indicated they are more concerned today about online privacy than they were a year ago. When given a choice of various governance sources to effectively run the world-wide Internet, a majority (57%) chose the multi-stakeholder option — a “combined body of technology companies, engineers, non-governmental organizations and institutions that represent the interests and will of ordinary citizens, and governments.”

A majority (54%) indicated they would also trust an international body of engineers and technical experts to store their online data, while only 36% of users would trust the United States to play an important role in running the Internet.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of the Internet users surveyed indicated they want their online data and personal information to be physically stored on a secure server in their own country.

Those surveyed also indicated that 64% are concerned about government censorship of the Internet and 62% are worried about government agencies from countries other than the U.S. secretly monitoring their online activities

Sixty-one percent indicated they are concerned about police or other government agencies from their own country secretly monitoring their online activities.

Another notable finding: that 83% of users believe that affordable access to the Internet should be a basic human right.

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