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Ipsos reveals new study Study

A global Ipsos survey of Internet users has found that 87% Indians believe that affordable access to the internet should be a basic Human Right. The study also found that eight out ten (83%) Indian Internet users are more concerned today about online privacy than they were compared to one year ago.

The CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, undertaken by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (“CIGI”) and conducted by global research company Ipsos, also found that when given a choice of various governance sources to effectively run the world-wide Internet, a large majority of Indians (79%) chose the multi-stakeholder option—a “combined body of technology companies, engineers, non-governmental organizations and institutions that represent the interests and will of ordinary citizens, and governments.”

The survey of 23,376 Internet users was carried out between October 7, 2014 and November 12, 2014 in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

“In terms of top overall levels of concern of Indians, it’s criminal hacking into personal bank accounts (84%) that heads the list followed by concern about someone hacking into users online accounts and stealing their personal information like photos and private messages (83%) and a private company monitoring their online activities (such as their Internet surfing habits) and then selling that information for commercial purposes without their explicit consent (82%),” said Biswarup Banerjee, Head Marketing Communication - India, Ipsos.

Following on concerns about invasive criminal or marketing incursions that might affect them personally come broader based concerns related to governments and institutions – a full majority (84%) are concerned about important institutions in their country being cyber attacked by a foreign government or terrorist organization followed by almost three in four (79%) who are concerned about governments censoring the Internet, almost equally (77%) concerned about government agencies from other country secretly monitoring their online activities and seven in 10 (76%) concerned about the police or other government agencies from their own country secretly monitoring their online activities.

Even if coincidentally, a majority of Indian Internet users (62%) has heard something about Edward Snowden, the US government contractor who leaked documents to the media showing how the United States and other national governments had been secretly tapping into personal online accounts to collect information about people around the world. Of the 62% to have heard of Edward Snowden, seven in 10 (69%) have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a result of what Edward Snowden revealed.

As noted above, Indian Internet users appear clearly and cleanly divided into two camps: eight in ten (83%) who are more concerned about online privacy today compared to a year ago and the majority (57%) who were not. This is reflected in the fact that 43% Indians disagree that private information on the Internet is very secure and 49% who also disagree that sharing personal information with private companies online is something that they do all the time (compared to the other 51% who do share their personal information with those companies because to them it’s not “a big deal”).

As a result, many users have taken steps in the past year to self-regulate their own behavior by changing their password regularly (54%), avoiding certain Internet sites and web applications (53%), self-censoring what they say online (39%), changing who they communicate with (30%), closing Facebook and other social media counts, etc. (18%) and using the Internet less often (15%).

Further, a full majority (83%) want their online data and personal information to be physically stored on a secure server and, in particular, in their own country (82%). Governance of the Internet on a local and global basis has been an increasing part of the online dialogue because of these growing concerns among users affected by unwanted and often alarming intrusive behaviors. Various models have been proposed but it’s clear that, when tested among global users, it’s the multi-stakeholder form of governance – that includes citizens, and not just experts, international institutions or combinations of countries – that has the broadest appeal when it comes to overseeing the running of the Internet (79%).  This top option is followed by their own government (77%), an international body of engineers and technical experts (72%), the United Nations (72%), International technology companies (71%), and the United States (60%).

Wariness about the role of governments – including their own – clearly underlies the desire of a majority of Internet users for a broad and more encompassing governance multi-stakeholder body. A large majority 71% Indians believe that their own government today does a very good job of making sure the Internet in their country is safe and secure (compared to 29% who disagree). Further, 51% believe that their own government and governments other than their own (54%) will restrict access to the Internet.

The importance of the Internet – both today and in the future – for users can’t be underestimated: the vast majority of Indians Internet users (87%) believe that affordable access to the Internet should be a basic human right (48% strongly). Buttressing this view is the importance that users place for their future in using the Internet for various undertakings. For them, the uses are ranked beginning with accessing important information and scientific knowledge (94% – very 64%), followed by their own economic future and livelihood (92% – very 57%), social communication (91% – very 58%), personal enjoyment of recreation (89% – very 53%), free-speech of political expression: (88% – very 51%). 

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