Thanks to a new law that comes into effect today, every single citizen of Finland now has a legal right to a wired broadband connection with a minimum speed of 1Mbps. According to communication minister Suvi Linden, the reason for the law is due to the fact that “internet services are no longer just for entertainment” and that it is a necessary to have to live in their “information society.”
In Finland, all but 4% of households currently have broadband connections. This, says the government, equates to about 4,000 households, all of which should be compliant with the new law in short order.
The British government has agreed to provide everyone with a minimum 2Mbps broadband connection by 2012 but it is a commitment rather than a legally binding ruling. “The UK has a universal service obligation which means virtually all communities will have broadband,” said a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Making broadband a legal right could have implications for countries that plan tough action on illegal file-sharing. Both the UK and France have said they may cut off or limit the internet connections of people who persistently download music or films for free. The Finnish government has adopted a more gentle approach. “We will have a policy where operators will send letters to illegal file-sharers but we are not planning on cutting off access,” said Ms Linden.
A poll conducted for the BBC World Service earlier this year found that almost four in five people around the world believed that access to the internet is a fundamental right.