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Web access – and censorship – growing

By Sean Mitchell, Thu 1 Apr 2010
FYI, this story is more than a year old

More New Zealanders are online than ever before, and broadband use continues to rise.Those are the major conclusions of the NZ World Internet Project Survey, conducted bi-annually by Auckland University of Technology’s Institute of Culture, Discourse & Communication.The survey of 1200 New Zealanders shows that 83% are now using the Internet, up from 79% in 2007. The proportion of Internet users using broadband has risen to 82%, up from 67% in 2007, with dial-up use declining.Two-thirds of survey respondents said the Internet was so important to their everyday lives that losing access to it would be a problem, and nearly half of users report using social networking sites, notably Facebook.More information on the WIP project is available at, four in five adults (79%) regard Internet access as their fundamental right, according to a new global poll conducted across 26 countries for BBC World Service.The poll of more than 27,000 adults conducted by GlobeScan found that 87% of those who used the Internet felt that internet access should be “the fundamental right of all people”. More than seven in ten (71%) non-Internet users also felt that they should have the right to access the Web.Most Web users are very positive about the changes the Internet has brought to their lives, with strong support for the information available, the greater freedom it brings, and social networking. However there was caution about expressing opinions online and fraud.But on a more sombre note, two other new reports raise major concerns about the way various countries are suppressing Internet freedom.The US State Department’s 2009 Human Rights Report says 2009 was a year in which more people gained greater access than ever before to more information about human rights through the Internet, cell phones, and other forms of connective technologies. Yet at the same time it was a year in which governments spent more time, money, and attention finding regulatory and technical means to curtail freedom of expression on the Internet. China and Iran have been identified as the countries whose governments most vigorously suppress freedom online. Read the full report at The second report, compiled by Reporters Without Borders, contains its latest list of ‘Enemies of the Internet’. This list points the finger at countries such as Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Tunisia that restrict online access and harass their online communities. A list of countries that have been placed “under surveillance” for displaying a disturbing attitude towards the Internet was also released.Australia is listed as “under surveillance” because of its plans to introduce compulsory Internet filtering. New Zealand, however, is listed as having a “good situation” (a voluntary system aimed at filtering child abuse sites has just been implemented – see page 9). The full report is at

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