Since 2010, Finland has been the only country in the world where internet access is considered a legal right, not a privilege. The government’s reasoning was that the internet has become an essential part of modern society, just as much as water or electricity. While Finns do still have to pay to access the internet in their homes, the government ensures that every person in the country can at least enjoy minimum broadband speeds. They can also freely access the internet at schools, universities, and libraries. Government and community projects are bringing high-speed fibre optic broadband to remote areas.
Other nations such as the UK have attempted similar schemes, but fallen far short of their targets. Controversies surrounding censorship, government regulations, and data hacking are almost entirely unheard of in Finland. The police only intervene with illegal or dangerous content.
Finland also has some of the world’s fastest internet speeds, even in remote regions, which are rising every year. These policies help Finland to retain its high standards for education and industry. Being able to access the internet anywhere also helps Finns in rural communities to stay connected, access entertainment, and find the resources they need.
Despite being a somewhat traditional country, Finland is generally much quicker to adapt to new technology trends than other countries. Several tech innovations such as Linux, the first internet browser, and the earliest online chat software were developed in Finland.
It is still debatable if internet access should be made a human right, although both the United Nations and the European Union have considered it. But with more governments and corporations attempting to censor and regulate online content, Finland’s example proves how it can be done differently. It also demonstrates just how much society has come to rely upon the internet, and that it could well be considered a universal human right in the future.