Emerging nations want uncensored Internet access, Pew survey shows

A study released today by the Pew Research Center shows that majorities in 22 of 24 developing nations surveyed want their access to the Internet to be free of government censorship, including 70%+ majorities in half of the countries that were included.

South American countries like Venezuela (89%), Chile (86%), Brazil (80%) and Argentina (80%) posted some of the highest margins of respondents saying that an uncensored Internet is an important thing, as did Middle Eastern and North African countries like Lebanon (86%), Egypt (83%), Jordan (69%) and the Palestinian Territories (62%).

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According to the Pew Center, support for a censorship-free Internet tended to be higher in countries with more general access to the Internet limited access in countries like Uganda and Pakistan is reflected in their lower support numbers, which were 49% and 22% respectively.

Some countries, of course were exceptions, the researchers said Venezuela and Egypt both showed more hostility to censorship than their usage numbers might have suggested, while Internet-savvy Russia's mark of 63% was surprisingly low. The study notes that "other Pew Research surveys have also found relatively low support for democratic rights and institutions in Russia and Pakistan."

The survey also found opinions divided along several demographic axes. Young people were more likely to rate an uncensored Internet as a priority than older people, while wealthier people were more likely than less affluent respondents to say the same thing. The well-educated, additionally, tended to favor unrestricted access more strongly than those with less formal schooling.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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