Is Internet access a human right?

April 4th, 2010 in .Blogs .News & Events
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And so we’ve finally entered the age where people start pushing for internet access to be recognized as a human right. A recent BBC World Service poll revealed that almost 80 percent of more 27,000 adults across 26 countries around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right.

 Countries like Finland and Estonia already classified net access as a human right for their citizens, while the United Nations is still striving for universal net access.

“The right to communicate cannot be ignored,” said Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union told BBC news.

He regards the internet as the “most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created” and further adds that everyone must have access to it to participate in the age of the knowledge society.

But therein lays the quandary. In this “knowledge society”, not everyone logs onto the net goes to read up on the theory of relativity or the evolution of man. Some are more concerned about tweeting about lunch or updating their Facebook statuses.

There’s no denying the power of the internet—it is a beneficial tool that both educates and entertains. But does it warrant enough to be classified as a “human right”?

I believe it all depends on what we see when we talk about human rights. Taken literally, it is the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled to.

So when we look at it that way, there are more important things like food, water, and shelter. Essentially, the fundamental things we need to survive.

“Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right.” – Kofi Annan, secretary-general, UN

That’s what matters when we talk about “human rights”. When you look at it in the grand scheme of things, internet access is a privilege, but not a right. It affects our quality of life, yes, but not to the extent of it playing a part in our very survival.

What do you think?

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