Monday, June 06, 2011

Internet Access A Basic Human Right?

Access to the Internet is a basic human right - so says a report to the U.N. focused on the "promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression".

While noting that for many people in the world, access to electricity is still a prohibitive issue, the report makes bold claims about the fundamental changes which Internet access has sparked worldwide and what changes are yet to take place -

the Internet is one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century for increasing transparency in the conduct of the powerful, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in building democratic societies.

Indeed, the recent wave of demonstrations in countries across the Middle East and North African region has shown the key role that the Internet can play in mobilizing the population to call for justice, equality, accountability and better respect for human rights."

An LA Times article adds:

"La Rue describes the Internet as "revolutionary" and unlike any other communication medium such as radio, television or printed publications, which are "based on one-way transmission of information."

The Internet, on the other hand, is an "interactive medium" that allows not only for the sharing of information, but also "collaboration in the creation of content," which makes people "no longer passive recipients, but also active publishers of information."

As such, the Internet can be a tool of empowerment and aid in the protection of and access to other human rights -- as well as contributing to growth economically, socially and politically -- benefiting mankind as a whole."

We are still far too inexperienced to say just what this type of global and personal expression and creation can provide. But we are absolutely in the early moments of a revolution in how the world communicates. Protecting and nourishing this technology and the freedom it offers is a monumental task.

But is Internet Access a basic human right?

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