Is the Internet a human right?

  • 25 January 2013
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(Reuters) - A German court ruled on Thursday that people have the right to claim compensation from service providers if their Internet access is disrupted, because the Internet is an "essential" part of life.
 
Full story here.

 
This decision doesn't make the Internet a human right in Germany though.  At least not yet.  At the moment, it just means you can get compensated in Germany if the Internet you're paying for gets cut off.  However, there is certainly a global movement towards recognizing Internet access as a human right.  Mashable reported last year on a United Nations resolution declaring exactly that (see here for that story).

 
A number of countries already have laws or decisions establishing the Internet as a human right: Costa Rica, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, and Spain.  There will likely be more to follow, as many countries see building out the necessary infrastructure as a precursor to an economic boon.

 
Internet-based technology will always continue to become ever more ubiquitous.  With inventions like Google Glass, for instance, becoming increasingly prevalent, could the Internet already rightly be considered "an essential part of life?"

 
On the other hand, in America alone, there are still about 119 million people without broadband Internet - a pretty huge number.  Of course there are other countries in which the figure is even more disproportionate.  It will most likely be a long time before everyone in the world has the privilege of experiencing a broadband connection.

 
But is it a privilege, or is it a right?  What do you think?

4 replies

Userlevel 7
The internet is no more a right than driving a car is: you are not born with either.
 
Considering you have to have electro-mechanical equipment to access the internet, I do not see how it can rightly be considered a human right.
Userlevel 7
Definitely not.
 
Represent newspapers, books, TVs etc. the human rights?
 
The world shouldn't deviate from the original meaning and understanding of human rights.
Userlevel 7
I would say no... it is not a human right.
 
That said, however, what are human rights?  In most countries they are the basic rights that all people have as prescribed by that country's laws.  SO if any given country decided enact into law that internet access is considered to be a human right, such as those Jim mentioned,  it will be so for those in that country.
 
I cannot consider it to be a universal human right however, as there are plenty of people who live perfectly good, productive lives, and make no use of the internet at all.  Internet Access does not pass the test of being essential for life in my opinion.
 
It may pass the test of being "Essential to Society" in highly developed society in which access is so ubiquitous as to be assumed availble to all.  We are very close to that state now: ask any parent with school age children.  It is broadly assumed by the school curriculum that all students have internet access at home.
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I believe the Internet will become a second-tier human right eventually. But I agree with Pegas, the world already has problems understanding and applying the human rights widely accepted right now.

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