Is access to the internet a fundamental human right? Things like the right to property, the right to food, the right to water and sanitation, and the right to healthcare are already well established as rights, either in the United Nations or through the European Convention on Human Rights. Should the right to surf the web join them?
Supporters of the “right to internet access” argue that the net is a vital enabler of other basic rights, such as the right to freedom of speech, the right to freedom of assembly, and even the right to development. They argue that states should actively work to ensure internet access is as high as possible within their borders, and refrain from cutting off access (for example, during political unrest, or as a sanction for violating intellectual property rights law).
Critics of the idea, however, argue that it’s absurd to elevate internet access to the level of a human right. Governments, for example, are clearly not obligated to facilitate the “right to a telephone” or the “right to a television”, despite those technologies also being great enablers of other rights. Critics also argue that this is an example of “human rights inflation”, which will ultimately lead to the devaluing of human rights as a concept, and “rights” becoming too broad to be meaningful.
Should Internet access be a basic human right? Do states have an obligation to ensure internet access is widely available? Or is surfing the web a luxury? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and