One in two think expressing opinions online is unsafe

In the post-Snowden world it's hardly surprising that many people believe that their every online move is being watched.

A new global poll carried out by GlobeScan on behalf of the BBC World Service reveals just how widespread these feelings are. Having polled over 17,000 people across 17 countries it finds that 52 percent believe the internet is an unsafe place to express opinions.

However, while one in two are wary of expressing opinion, 67 percent say the internet brings them greater freedom. Government surveillance is a major worry though with 36 percent saying they don't feel free from it.

Broken down by country 54 percent of Americans and 51 percent of Germans say they don't feel free of government surveillance. This contrasts sharply with China where 76 percent say they feel free of surveillance. Majorities in Russia (61 percent) and Indonesia (69 percent) also say they feel free of government snooping.

The poll also looked at media freedom, finding that the number of people who believe that their country's media was, "free to report the news accurately, truthfully and without undue bias" has dropped by around a third over the last seven years. In the US and UK a minority of respondents now believe their media is free compared to a majority in 2007.

"The poll suggests that two of the underpinnings of modern democracies are at risk -- a media seen as free and fair; and an internet safe for the free expression of views." says GlobeScan Chairman, Doug Miller. "The results also suggest that many of the personal freedoms that Western democracies have championed in the world are actually fairly well established in the minds of citizens across these particular 17 countries. Ironically, it is in some of these very democracies where citizens give relatively poor ratings of some freedoms".

Polling was carried out face-to-face or by phone between December 2013 and February 2014 in the following countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the USA. The results have been released as part of the BBC's Freedom 2014 event which looks at what freedom means in the modern world.

If you feel safe to express your views on these results the comments thread below is available for your use.

Image Credit: Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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