Half of Internet Users Wary of Expressing Their Views Online

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1st April 2014 16:23 - Information Technology

The study, conducted by BBC World Service as part of the BBC’s Freedom Live initiative, found that more than half (52%) of internet users in seventeen countries disagree with the statement ‘the internet is a safe place to express my opinions’.

The fear is greatest in France, closely followed by the other European countries in the poll, as well as the US, Canada, South Korea and Australia.

Respondents in China remained fairly evenly divided; 45% said they felt safe saying what they thought, against 51% who said they felt unsafe.

Researchers also found that one in three people do not feel free from government surveillance, with citizens most concerned about snooping in the wake on the National Security Agency scandal.

Since 2007, internet user confidence that media in their country is reporting accurately has fallen by a fifth (19%).

Tony Neate, Chief Executive of getsafeonline.org, said:

"The internet is a fantastic forum for discussion and debate, enabling us to connect with people from nations all over the world and hear differing opinions… In the UK we are fortunate enough to enjoy freedom of expression but this isn't the case in all countries.”

Doug Miller, chairman of GlobeScan, which carried out the survey, said:

"The poll suggests that two of the underpinnings of modern democracies are at risk - a media seen as free and fair; and an internet safe for the free expression of views… Ironically, it is in some of these very democracies where citizens give relatively poor ratings of some freedoms."

Recently, the Turkish government banned video-sharing website YouTube from the country, following a similar move with social network Twitter. This comes after claims that the sites were unfairly spreading anti-government propaganda.

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