U.N. Declares Access to Internet a Basic Human Right

For some time I have (too quietly) beat the drum for including access to information as a fundamental human right.  A major step occurred this week when the United Nations declared with certainty that Internet access is indeed a human right and that denial of that right is against international law.

Though the action stems directly from the major shut down of Internet access in Syria it is, in fact, a response to access restriction throughout the Arab Spring. The United Nations action, written by Special Rapporteur Frank LaRue, speaks of the unique and transformative nature of the Internet which has the capacity for individuals to exercise their right to freedom of opinion.  “LaRue writes:  “Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states.”

In his review of the UN action Nicholas Jackson, writing in The Atlantic, notes that “a BBC survey of 26 countries in March 2010 found that 79 percent of people believe access to the Internet is a fundamental right.”

Why don’t we just say that?  Perhaps, as Truthdig notes in its June 5 report on the UN action, “net neutrality – the concept that Internet use and content must be free of restriction by governments and Internet services providers – remains quietly under threat in the United States.”

Something to consider as Twin Cities advocates prepare for the NetRoots Nation conference and the host of meetings, announcements, and opportunities that surround it.

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