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Latin America Howls for Internet Freedom, Pew Research Shows

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First Posted: Mar 19, 2014 11:12 PM EDT
Support for Internet Freedom Linked to Internet Usage
(Photo : Pew Research Center)

Developing nations want the Internet to be free from censorship, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in Latin America.

A new Pew Research Center survey reveals that six of the ten countries that feel the strongest about people having access to the Internet without government censorship hail from Latin America.

"Opposition to government restrictions on the internet is especially common in several of the Latin American nations surveyed, including Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Bolivia," reads the Pew report on the survey.

Venezuela leads the pack with 89 percent of those surveyed saying its important for people to have access to the Internet without government censorship. Chile came in at third place overall with 86 percent, Argentina fifth with 80 percent, Brazil sixth with 80 percent, Mexico seventh with 79 percent, and Bolivia ninth with 76 percent.

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The data collected is the result of a Pew Research Center survey interviewing 21,847 participants in 24 emerging and developing countries face-to-face.

"Support for internet freedom tends to be strong in nations with high rates of Internet penetration, such as Chile and Argentina, where roughly two-thirds of the population is online. It is less common in nations with lower penetration rates, like Indonesia and Uganda," reads the Pew report.

Chile and Argentina also led all countries in terms of people with Internet access that believed an uncensored global network is important. Russia rounded out the top three.

The survey also found that younger people are more likely to demand an open Internet. In both Chile and Venezuela 92 percent of 18-29 year olds surveyed said the issue was important to them, in Brazil and Mexico 85 percent responded similarly, and in Bolivia 84 percent.

The same survey found that there is relatively low support for democratic rights and institutions in Russia and Pakistan.

A large portion of Latin American populations gain access to the Internet through mobile devices such as smartphones and Latin America has recently emerged as a key mobile market. The region experienced the largest growth in smartphone sales towards the end of last year and is becoming a key area of focus for mobile manufacturers.

"A median of only one-in-four cell phone users across the countries surveyed say they access a social networking site regularly on their phone, although a third or more do so in Chile (37%), Venezuela (37%)..." reads an early January Pew report.

"Generally, this activity is more popular in Latin America and the Middle East than in Asia and Africa."

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