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The Freedom to Connect: Internet Access As a Human Right

The United Nations hasn't explicitly proclaimed Internet access as a human right. But there's a growing consensus that everyone has the right to Internet access.

Back in 2016, the UN acknowledged Internet access as vital for the exercise of other human rights, such as freedom of expression and education. The Internet is indispensable for participating in society, gaining education and healthcare access, and exercising economic and social rights.

There are many reasons that support the idea that Internet access should be treated as a human right.

Primarily, the Internet has evolved into an essential tool for communication, education, and engagement in societal matters. Secondly, it can act as a catalyst to bridge the digital divide and empower marginalized communities. Lastly, the Internet can serve as a platform to uphold human rights and democratic values.

Nevertheless, ensuring universal Internet access brings challenges with it. These include the cost of access, inadequate infrastructure in certain regions, and governmental censorship. However, these challenges can be overcome with efforts from various non-profit and for-profit organizations -- with support from governments.

While the right to Internet access remains a developing concept, there's a mounting consensus that it's intrinsic to the enjoyment of other human rights. The UN should take steps to explicitly declare Internet access a human right and work towards providing it to all.


Why Internet Access Should be Guaranteed for Everyone


Here are some of the arguments advocating for the recognition of Internet access as a human right:

1. The Internet is essential for exercising human rights like freedom of expression, education, and participation in political and economic activities.

2. Internet access can help reduce digital disparities and empower marginalized groups.

3. The Internet can be a tool for promoting human rights and democratic principles.

4. In a world where most transactions happen and most information is spread over the Internet, not having access to the digital space is almost synonymous with being left out or deprived of participation.

5. Many opportunities for advancement, such as educational resources and job opportunities, exist online.

Challenges in ensuring universal Internet access

1. High costs associated with Internet connectivity. Infrastructures, maintenance costs, and personal devices are needed to make Internet connectivity happen.

2. Insufficient infrastructure in certain regions worldwide. Some countries do not have the infrastructure needed to support the number of people who need to connect to the Internet.

3. Proliferation of misinformation and disinformation online. Exposure to false information can be more harmful that having no access to the Internet. The entire online community needs to work together to create a safe online space.

What steps can be taken to achieve universal Internet access?


1. Governments can invest in infrastructure and reduce the cost of Internet access.

2. Eliminate barriers like censorship that restrict access.

3. Promote digital literacy and education initiatives.

4. Combat misinformation and disinformation online.

5. More equitable distribution of Internet resources like IP addresses.

6. Policies from governments and regional Internet registries (RIRs).

The right to Internet access is a multifaceted issue, growing increasingly crucial. Through collaborative efforts, we can ensure that everyone has access to the Internet and the opportunities it provides.

In Summary


Internet access is essential for people to participate in modern society and to exercise their fundamental human rights.

We need the Internet to communicate, educate, access information, and participate in society.

Without internet access, people are shut out of many opportunities and resources that have become increasingly digitized.

Internet access is essential for people to exercise their fundamental human rights, such as the right to education, the right to healthcare, the right to work, and the right to housing.

There is still an on-going debate on whether online access is a right in itself or just a means to access fundamental rights. Regardless of where the debate settles, there's one thing we know for sure: the Internet is essential and we need to keep it fair and free for all.

Join NRS in our advocacy to create an Internet for all.

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