4.4 billion people live without internet
The majority of people live without internet access. Developing countries, however, are catching up.
The number of internet users worldwide grew again by almost seven percent in 2014, surpassing the three billion user mark for the first time. This corresponds to about 40 percent of the world's population. This means that 60 percent of people are still excluded from using the Internet, i.e. around 4.4 billion people. By 2020, the International Telecommunication Union estimates that this number will be reduced to less than three billion. There is little prospect, however, for the roughly 2.5 billion inhabitants of the 42 poorest countries. In the next few years, islands with Internet access may emerge in some large cities, but the vast majority of people in these countries will remain excluded from the World Wide Web for a long time to come.
Developing countries are catching up
Apart from these very poor countries, however, it is clear that even less prosperous regions of the world are capable of building and maintaining a network infrastructure. As an indicator for this serves the so-called „International bandwidth“. This is the maximum bandwidth available in a country. In 2004, developing countries accounted for nine percent of international bandwidth; by 2014, this figure had risen to 30 percent. However, a little caution is needed when interpreting this figure. It says nothing about how many residents of each country can actually access that International Bandwidth.
Censorship and surveillance are on the rise
So more and more countries are technically capable of providing free Internet access to their citizens – but fewer and fewer countries want it! According to estimates by the „World Wide Web Foundation“ 84 percent of countries do not or insufficiently protect their citizens against indiscriminate mass surveillance over the Internet. As recently as 2013, only 63 percent of countries were rated so negatively, so spying on users has increased dramatically within a year. This also applies to censorship of internet content. In 2013, 32 percent of countries censored the Internet, a year later it was already 38 percent.
Reasons for the lack of protection against surveillance
The World Wide Web Foundation has analyzed for its analysis of surveillance on the net only the legal situation in different countries. Whether laws for the protection of privacy on the net are actually observed or, for example, are undermined by domestic or foreign intelligence services, is not clear from this analysis. More precisely, the result would have to be formulated as follows: 84 percent of the countries do not even attempt to sufficiently protect their citizens from mass surveillance through appropriate laws. One important reason for this is that more and more countries are expanding their surveillance capabilities as part of the „war on terror“. Some other states, though never among the pioneers in civil liberties anyway, have closely followed the role the Internet has played in the so-called „Arab Spring“. In Egypt in particular, Mubarak's military government was visibly surprised and ultimately overrun by the resistance organized via Facebook. It was foreseeable that this would be closely registered by other dictators. As a result, surveillance of social media and other communications platforms in particular increased significantly around the world. Incidentally, the technology required for this was not infrequently supplied by Western operators of communications and data networks.
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