Within one of the assigned readings for this week, namely, The Economist Intelligence Unit Digital Economy Rankings 2010 (http://tinyurl.com/a4f4k2k) a point was raised that sparked my curiosity- should access to the internet and other ICTs be considered a fundamental human right?
The traditional reliance on mass media intermediaries been superseded by the exchanging of ideas, opinions, and information over the emerging global network called the Internet. Because media has grown to be more and more independent, and communication practices are successively evolving, further attention paid to those pockets of people who are still excluded from the benefits of public access to ICTS is warranted. A growing number of policy makers are working to address this issue, particularly where network infrastructure is still being developed and invested in. The report provides the example of Australia, which is working to bring the minority of its citizens, who live in remote or rural residences, within reach of high-speed Internet through their $40 billion National Broadband Network Initiative. Another example that illustrates a changing attitude towards uniform access to the Internet is that of Finland, the country that comes in as number 4 on the EIU Rankings. Finland “has gone so far as to enshrine a law in Internet access as a basic human right.” This debate goes hand-in-hand with the other emerging concept of a knowledge society. According to UNESCO (as taken from the Untwin text), in said society, “knowledge is a public good, available to each and every individual.” A knowledge society favors inclusion; and the only way such societies will be formed, recognized, and sustained is if the consideration of even access to the Internet and other ICTs as a fundamental right becomes an internationally accepted belief. Statistics positively point to the likelihood of this type of a global attitude shift. As the report states, “a recent BBC poll of Internet users found that 87% of people across 27 countries believe this should indeed be” treated as a basic right as defined by being human.