Five billion people can’t be wrong, can they?

I don’t put complete trust in the wisdom of crowds, but this new BBC/GlobeScan survey shows how quickly the Internet has assumed an essential role in the daily activities and the political thinking of people around the world. The survey of 27,973 adults in 26 countries found the following percentages of respondents consider Internet access a fundamental right:

  • 79% of adults worldwide
  • 87% of Internet users
  • 71% of Internet non-users
  • 87% of Chinese
  • 76% of Americans

Similar percentages — 78% worldwide — say that the Internet has increased their freedom.

As a sign of how quickly we have integrated the Internet into our lives, 44% of respondents said they they think they could not cope without the Internet. Those percentages showed huge variety from country to country: the folks most likely to go bonkers without Web access are in Japan (84%), Mexico
(81%), and Russia (71%). Folks in Turkey (27%), the Philippines (21%), and Pakistan (19%) are the least likely to think they’ve gotta have signal. 36% of Americans indicated they’d have trouble going Web-free.

Remember, we’re talking about a technology that has been somewhat accessible for barely two decades and which still has global penetration of just slightly over 25%. Yet the vast majority of mankind appears to recognize the enormous value of a global communications network that every citizen can afford to use.