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

Image Credits: (cc) Flickr – Lucélia Ribeiro

10 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Is such question important for EU’s political future or important to keep “small talk” alive? What can the EU do about a non available “signal” or the non affordability of owning a computer etc…?

    A more serious link from 2013:

    Sorry, but a.m. assumption (internet=HR) is absurd, political comical and destroys one’s belief in sane politics and where it will end!

  2. avatar

    A human right? NO, why should it be? It’s not necessary for living. There are millions of people without water, food, medicines or even basic education, far away more important than internet.

    • avatar

      Because the right of free information it’s a human right too. Special in a world, in that many of the people more than only one language speaking, but in many country, even in the EU is the media not free and it’s too often manipulated from goverments and business companies. Information are may more necessary than even food! Similar to water! If you are more informed before you speak, you didn’t do that now. Also it’s a proof that the internet is fundamental need. You spoken unfortunately very silly now! 😏

  3. avatar

    Why not.. apparently pretty much everything is now a human right….I should have an Aston Martin, an apartment in Monaco….win the Lottery each month…..

    • avatar

      Unfortunately embarrissing bs what you said! 😏

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