Governments: Listen to citizens on broadband action

Finland says broadband is a right, alongside gas, electricity and water supplies, and not a privilege. So why are other countries falling behind and lot listening to what their citizens want?

This week, Finland announced that broadband was "a right, not a privileged" and classified Internet access as important as other household supplies - water, gas and electricity.

The UK however is still fairly firm in its boots that nationwide 2MB ADSL broadband will be rolled out to every house by 2012, yet Finland will be rolling out nationwide 100MB fibre-optic broadband by 2015 - two years earlier than the UK's plans to roll out fibre, according to the BBC.

But to be fair, Finland not only has natural resources which it can still harvest but it also has excellent international relations. Such things as national security are not as high on the agenda as the UK's.

Perhaps then this gives their government a little more to spend in terms of nationwide broadband access; allowing them to provide much faster speeds at a cheaper overall cost, in a shorter time period, unlike the British government which frankly still thinks it has the right to police the world.

Nevertheless, there are conflicting governance issues around the Internet, ironically only a week after the US government relaxed its control measures on how the Internet is run.

The Internet is a right, and not a privilege. It is a necessity in post-modern times and without it the world would crumble. Not only does this show our societal dependency on an inter-connecting network of information but it shows how far we have come.

I believe the Internet should have some governance by entities elected in by the people based on real-world usage.

Take the laws on wireless network access. If someone leaves their wireless network unsecured and somebody comes along and accesses it, that is considered theft and under the UK Communications Act. This is similar to common law elements, such as leaving a laptop or a phone in an unlocked car. Just because the car (in this case a wireless network) is open, doesn't mean somebody else can come and take it.

To me, that makes sense, even though the law is open to interpretation. Cutting people off from the Internet because they shared a file is unnecessary and frankly unethical. A reasonable and proportional fine could be imposed as a result of copyright infringement or illegal sharing, as opposed to ones which are entirely overboard, or a civil case could be brought against the representatives of the item which was shared and justice served in this sense. The former would work better, though.

Nevertheless, it is time governments returned to their constituent grass-roots and listened to the hearts of the communities beating. Forget the think-tanks, ignore the focus groups and don't bow down to pressure from the corporations and industry fiends. Give the people what they want, or ignore them and lose the next election. Your choice.

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