As of today, July 1st, Finland is guaranteeing every citizen of Finland at least a 1Mbps broadband connection with a promise to bump this up to 100Mbps by 2015. This puts broadband internet on the same level as other legal rights in the country like healthcare and education.
Net Law Man reports, that Finland is the first to make this a legal right, with Spain to follow suite. The UK has also passed legislation regarding broadband, guaranteeing 2Mbps connections to all citizens by 2012. They have not actually made broadband a legal right, though. On other related news checkout this blog about car accidents.
This means that broadband companies in Finland will be required to offer broadband internet to all customers, at least 1Mbps, starting July 1st. Finland’s communication minister Suvi Linden explained the thinking behind the legislation, which seems to mirror many sentiments about the digital divide in the US:
“We considered the role of the internet in Finns everyday life. Internet services are no longer just for entertainment. Finland has worked hard to develop an information society and a couple of years ago we realised not everyone had access,” she said. via BBC News
Here in the US, the Internet has become an important part of our daily lives. It has definitely moved beyond entertainment and become a necessity for success. Important things like looking for a job are almost impossible to do with no Internet. Gone are the days when we kept an encyclopedia in the home. Most are outdated by the Internet by the time they print.
While broadband internet as a legal right is a positive for many people, there are also other implications according. If the government is giving you your high-speed connection by law, it’s sure to come with a few unwanted bells and whistles. File-sharing is a hot topic as far as broadband goes and government mandated broadband connections might come with restrictions on what you can download.
The UK and France say they might cut off or limit the connections of those downloading movies, music, and other media for free. Finland will take a lighter approach in simply sending letters to the offenders and hoping they comply. As far as the US goes, there is no telling where the music and film industry might take things. The legal right to broadband is definitely a double-edged sword.