Right to the internet

Before you start ranting and raving about how we can’t possibly make the internet a human right, please read through the entire post to understand what I am trying to tell you :-)

Firstly, I have not blogged in quite a while due to university being very busy, but as we are coming into the Easter holidays, and the year is slowly drawing to a close, I should get a number of posts written up in the coming weeks (hopefully). Ok, now on with the topic:

A while ago, a number of countries made access to the internet a human right. As far as I know, Estonia, Finland, France and Greece all have decided that the internet is so important that it is essential to all humans and therefore can be called a human right. It has also been proposed in the UN to become officially a human right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I find this very interesting, and in some ways agree. I want to explore a few of my thoughts.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”, and “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” (Article 1 and 2 respectively)

Both of these articles say that humans are to be equal, and not discriminated on anything. The internet does this really well in the common saying that no one knows if you are a dog on the internet. If you can type, and you access the internet, theoretically you are equal to everyone else on it. Now, sure there is a certain level of status on the internet but that is gained by what you do rather than who you are. People like Tim Berners-Lee and Jimmy Wales are very respected on the internet and have huge influence, but that is not because the background they come from, but rather the fact that 1 created the WWW, and one created Wikipedia.

You can be whoever you want on the internet, and therefore you are theoretically equal.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. (article 19)

Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (Article 26)

These 2 rights (to opinion and to education) are both made easier with the internet. The internet is a huge source of information allowing for easy education on any matter, as well as being a place where you can give your opinion on anything, obviously dependant on where you put that opinion.

Many services are becoming internet only. For example, to submit an assignment in University or to get information about my course, I have to have the internet. There is no other way I can easily get this information. Also, many banks give better rates if you have an internet-only account, meaning that if you don’t have the internet, you lose out as you don’t get the best deals you can.

There are many things that the internet is becoming the only way for, as this makes it easier to do these things. However, this then leads us to the conclusion that the internet is an essential part of life.

If the internet becomes a human right, suddenly the 3 strikes law (which is extremely wrong, and if you want my opinion on it, I wrote about it to my MP, and ranted about it a lot) becomes a non-issue. It then becomes a law which is illegal, and therefore can’t exist.

As a side note, the internet being a human right would force countries to make it available in some form to anyone who wants it. This doesn’t mean wiring up every single house in the country, as things like internet cafes in acceptable distances from homes would suffice as giving them access, and obviously technologies like 3G, LTE and WiMax would be great additions in areas that it is not viable to wire up houses. It also doesn’t mean that it would be forced upon anyone, as anyone who didn’t want the internet (shock horror…) wouldn’t need to have it.

Now, your opinions please :-) internet: human right?