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Internet Way of Networking 9 December 2020

Two Thirds of People Worldwide Are Not Confident in Politicians Regulating the Internet

Washington, DC – 9 December, 2020 – As governments around the world plan moves to implement tighter controls over major technology firms like Google, Twitter and Facebook, a survey of Internet users across 12 countries has shown that over two thirds of people (67%) are not confident that politicians  have a good enough understanding of how the Internet works to regulate it. 

The online survey, carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Internet Society, a global nonprofit organization that advocates for an open, globally connected and secure Internet, underscores how the coronavirus pandemic has made the Internet critical to the functioning of our economies. The Internet has scaled seamlessly during the pandemic, enabling nearly half (48%) of those surveyed globally to continue working and learning. 

The polling results come as more governments across the world eye proposals that could threaten the Internet. These include the potential removal of intermediary liability protection and other laws that could threaten innovation on the Internet. A highly contentious debate over the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the US, the proposed Digital Services Act package in the European Union, the upcoming Online Harms Bill in the United Kingdom, and threats to upend Brazil’s Civil Rights Framework for the Internet are just some examples.  

In the US during this Congress there have been 22 attempts to change Section 230, including 11 in the last three months alone. Incoming President Joe Biden has also called for Section 230 to be amended, a regulatory change which, if poorly designed, could subject smaller companies, start up platforms, and other Internet infrastructure intermediaries to stifling regulation and litigation.  

The Internet Society’s survey results showed that globally, nearly two in five (39%) people have turned to the Internet for services during the pandemic that they would never previously have accessed online. This figure rose to two thirds (66%) of people living in countries with lower rates of Internet penetration, such as Lebanon, Mexico, Colombia, South Africa and India, where the use of online services was less of a norm pre-pandemic. 

Three in five Internet users reported using the Internet for banking (60%) and shopping (60%), while two in five reported making phone calls (41%), watching video content (39%), and accessing news and content from other countries (38%) since the start of the pandemic.  

Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Senior Vice President of the Internet Society, said: “Our survey reflects the widely held concern that politicians are unequipped to work in the interests of an open Internet that benefits everyone. During the pandemic, the Internet has been a lifeline for billions around the world. The increasing centrality of the Internet to our lives makes it even more essential that the Internet remains global and open, so that everyone around the world can benefit from the unique capacity for innovation and adaptation that is built into the fundamental architecture of the Internet.” 

The Internet Society is warning that politicians around the world could damage the fundamental architecture of the Internet through poorly informed regulations. That is why the Internet Society is calling on policymakers to use the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit – an analysis that helps policymakers design, implement and measure the impact of regulation – to make informed and focused decisions.  

-ENDS-

 Notes to Editors     

Full stats from the survey listed below 

Global Statistics:  

  • Over two thirds of Internet users globally (67%) are not confident that politicians have a good enough understanding of the internet to effectively regulate it. 
  • Nearly half (48%) of Internet users globally say that during the pandemic they have been able to work and/or learn effectively because the internet has allowed them to do so remotely. 
  • During the pandemic, nearly two in five (39%) of Internet users globally have used online services they never considered using before the pandemic (e.g. online shopping, banking, healthcare, education etc.). 
  • On average, two thirds (66%) of Internet users in countries with lower rates of internet penetration, including Lebanon, Mexico, Colombia, South Africa and India, have used online services they never considered using before the pandemic (e.g. online shopping, banking, healthcare, education etc.). 
  • Three in five (60%) Internet users globally reported using the Internet for banking since the start of the pandemic. 
  • Three in five (60%) Internet users globally reported using the Internet for shopping since the start of the pandemic. 
  • Just over two in five (41%) Internet users globally reported using the Internet for making phone calls since the start of the pandemic. 
  • Just under two in five (39%) Internet users globally reported using the Internet for streaming video content since the start of the pandemic. 
  • Just under two in five (38%) Internet users globally reported using the Internet for accessing news and content from other countries since the start of the pandemic. 

Methodology:  

Research was carried out by YouGov, on behalf of the Internet Society and surveyed a representative sample of 15855 adults online aged 18+ across 12 different regions around the world, broken down as 1031 in Colombia, 1009 in South Africa, 255 in Lebanon, 1060 in Singapore, 1002 in India, 1001 in Mexico, 2030 in France, 2008 in the United States, 2181 in Germany, 2217 in the United Kingdom, 1026 in Japan, and 1035 in Taiwan.  

Research was carried out between 5th and 15th October 2020 via an online survey. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the online population of adults (aged 18+) in each country.  

The survey was carefully crafted with the support of YouGov to avoid, as much as possible, bias or confusion.  

About the Internet Society 

Founded in 1992 by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society is a global non-profit organization working to ensure the Internet remains a force for good for everyone. Through its community of members, special interest groups, and 120+ chapters around the world, the organization defends and promotes Internet policies, standards, and protocols that keep the Internet open, globally connected, and secure. For more information, please visit: internetsociety.org.

 

Media Contact:
Allesandra deSantillana
Internet Society
[email protected]

 

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