Is Internet Access a Fundamental Right?

Within one of the assigned readings for this week, namely, The Economist Intelligence Unit Digital Economy Rankings 2010 (http://tinyurl.com/a4f4k2ka 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The traditional reliance on mass media intermediaries been superseded by the exchanging of ideas, opinions, and information over the emerging global network called the Internet.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.

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2 responses to “Is Internet Access a Fundamental Right?

  • laurenparmley

    Not that I disagree with Australia and the belief that knowledge is power and UNESCO that it is also a public good, but I wonder if putting $40 billion into technology is really the best way to access this idea of “knowledge”. Is technology honestly as important as education and healthcare? (I would argue no)

  • fiftakesmaroc

    I disagree with you Lauren. It seems as though you are concluding that technology and education are inherently separated. I would argue that the internet is the best form of self-education out there, in some ways, more valuable than formal education settings as it empowers the individual to pursue and build on their intellectual curiosity. Nowadays, I do think access to the Internet is become ever-increasingly a fundamental human right as communities can use it to improve all their other social problems such as education and healthcare.

    After working with a nonprofit in Morocco, I understand the efficacy of the organization is severely handicapped with proper Internet and social media skills.

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