Developing Countries: We Want Internet Freedom!

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A censorship-free Internet is a priority for most people in emerging countries, especially the younger population, according to a new report.

Pew Research Center interviewed nearly 22,000 people in 24 emerging and developing countries between March and May for the report released Wednesday.

In 22 of those 24 countries, the majority of respondents think "it is important that people have access to the internet without government censorship." (Uganda just missed the cutoff, at 49 percent, and Pakistan was significantly lower at just 22 percent.)

The strength of censorship opposition varied by country, as well as other factors. Support of Internet freedom is prevalent in Latin American countries as well as Lebanon and Egypt, Pew said.

Unsurprisingly, anti-censorship sentiment tends to be strong in nations where Internet use is more common, such as Chile and Argentina. The trend is reversed in less connected nations like Uganda.

But two countries bucked that trend: Internet-freedom support in Russia (63 percent) and Pakistan (22 percent) came in low compared with the level of Internet penetration in those countries.

Age is also a major factor: In 14 of the 24 countries surveyed, people ages 18-29 are more likely than those 50 or older to think a free Internet is important. In nations including Russia and Lebanon, that age gap came in at 20 percentage points or more.

"These age differences suggest that support for internet freedom will only become more widespread with the passage of time," Pew said in its report.

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