83% of Global Internet Users Believe Affordable Access to the Internet Should be a Basic Human Right

Two Thirds (64%) of Users in 24 Country Study More Concerned About Online Privacy Compared to Year Ago

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ottawa, Canada – A survey of Internet users in 24 countries has found that 83% of them believe that affordable access to the internet should be a basic human right. The study also found that two thirds (64%) of users are more concerned today about online privacy than they were compared to one year ago. The CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, undertaken by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (“CIGI”) and conducted by global research company Ipsos, also found that 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.”

The survey of 23,376 Internet users was carried out between October 7, 2014 and November 12, 2014 in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

In terms of top overall levels of concern, it’s criminal hacking into personal bank accounts (78%) that heads the list followed by concern about someone hacking into users online accounts and stealing their personal information like photos and private messages (77%) and a private company monitoring their online activities (such as their Internet surfing habits) and then selling that information for commercial purposes without their explicit consent (74%).

Following on concerns about invasive criminal or marketing incursions that might affect them personally come broader based concerns related to governments and institutions – a full majority (72%) are concerned about important institutions in their country being cyber attacked by a foreign government or terrorist organization followed by two thirds (64%) who are concerned about governments censoring the Internet, almost equally (62%) concerned about government agencies from other country secretly monitoring their online activities and six in 10 (61%) concerned about the police or other government agencies from their own country secretly monitoring their online activities.

Even if coincidentally, a majority (60%) has heard something about Edward Snowden, the US government contractor who leaked documents to the media showing to the United States and other national governments had been secretly tapping into personal online accounts to collect information about people around the world. Of the 60% to have heard of Edward Snowden, four in 10 (39%) have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a result of what Edward Snowden revealed.

As noted above, global Internet users appear clearly and cleanly divided into two camps: two thirds (64%) who are more concerned about online privacy today compared to a year ago and the one third (36%) who were not. This is reflected in the fact that 64% disagree that private information on the Internet is very secure and 63% who also disagree that sharing personal information with private companies online is something that they do all the time (compared to the other 37% who do share their personal information with those companies because to them it’s not “a big deal”).

As a result, many users have taken steps in the past year to self-regulate their own behavior by avoiding certain Internet sites and web applications (43%), changing their password regularly (39%), self-censoring what they say online (28%), changing who they communicate with (18%), closing Facebook and other social media counts, etc. (11%) and using the Internet less often (10%).

Further, a full majority (73%) want their online data and personal information to be physically stored on a secure server and, in particular, in their own country (72%).

Governance of the Internet on a local and global basis has been an increasing part of the online dialogue because of these growing concerns among users affected by unwanted and often alarming intrusive behaviors. Various models have been proposed but it’s clear that, when tested among global users, it’s the multi-stakeholder form of governance – that includes citizens, and not just experts, international institutions or combinations of countries – that has the broadest appeal when it comes to overseeing the running of the Internet (57%). This top option is followed by an international body of engineers and technical experts (54%), the United Nations (50%), International technology companies (49%), their own government (47%) and the United States (36%).

Wariness about the role of governments – including their own – clearly underlies the desire of a majority of Internet users for a broad and more encompassing governance multi-stakeholder body. Only 48% believe that their own government today does a very good job of making sure the Internet in their country is safe and secure (compared to 52% to disagree). Further, one third (34%) believe that their own government and governments other than their own (43%) will restrict access to the Internet.

The importance of the Internet – both today and in the future – for users can’t be underestimated: the vast majority (83%) believe that affordable access to the Internet should be a basic human right (49% strongly). Buttressing this view is the importance that users place for their future in using the Internet for various undertakings. For them, the uses are ranked beginning with accessing important information and scientific knowledge (91% – very 57%), followed by personal enjoyment of recreation (87% – very 47%), social communication (85% – very 48%), free-speech of political expression: (83% – very 47%) and their own economic future and livelihood (81% – very 45%).

To read and download the full press release, please click here.

This survey was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (“CIGI”) between October 7, 2014 and November 12, 2014. The survey was conducted in 24 countries—Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States—and involved 23,376 Internet users. Twenty of the countries utilized the Ipsos Internet panel system while the other four (Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tunisia) were conducted by Ipsos Computer-aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI) facilities in each of those countries. In the US and Canada respondents were aged 18-64, and 16-64 in all other countries. Approximately 1000+ individuals were surveyed in each country and are weighted to match the online population in each country surveyed. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, a poll of 1,000 is accurate to ± 3.5 percentage points. For those surveys conducted by CATI, the accuracy is a margin of error of ±3.1.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

John Wright
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
(416) 324-2002

About the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit www.cigionline.org.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.

With offices in 86 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,712,4 million (2 274 M$) in 2013.

Visit www.ipsos.com to learn more about Ipsos’ offerings and capabilities.

83% of Global Internet Users Believe Affordable Access to the Internet Should be a Basic Human Right


Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services,
North America