Make Broadband A Legal Right

23 October 2009
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today (Friday) applauded Finland for being the first country to make broadband access a legal right and hopes it will set the benchmark for other countries, like Scotland, to follow suit.

Mr Smith, an active campaigner for better broadband throughout remote and rural Scotland, has written to the Minister for Enterprise Jim Mather, to make him aware of this positive initiative and urge the Scottish Government to adopt the same approach.

Finland's Ministry of Transport and Communications this week revealed that starting July 2010, every person in Finland (an estimated 5.3 million), will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection as an intermediate step. By the end of 2015, the legal right will be extended to an impressive 100 Mb broadband connection for everyone.

Interestingly, some countries have already made Internet access a human right, but Finland is the first in the world to make it a legal one. Other European countries including Belgium and the UK are considering making broadband access available for all. The fast growth of technology has led the European Commission to bring forward a review of the basic telecoms services Europeans can expect.

Speaking from Brussels, Smith said:

"It is fantastic to see Europe at the forefront of such regulation. Current statistics suggest about 36% of households in EU member nations have high-speed net access. When a majority of EU citizens are using a telecoms service, EC law dictates that it becomes one every European should be able to enjoy.

"The SNP Government and the Minister for Enterprise, Jim Mather, have already made great strides towards improving Broadband services in remote and rural Scotland. However, there is always room for improvement and our European neighbours to our East have set the ball rolling in making Broadband access a legal right. Finland has a population of just over 5 million, which is very similar to that of Scotland. It therefore begs the question: if Finland can introduce such laws then could Scotland not follow suit and embrace the idea of the Internet as a human right also? I don't see why not.

"Scotland as a whole has to stay connected with the modern digital world and I'm sure the Scottish Government will to do everything to ensure we do."