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Internet Access a Human Right: UN

Monday, June 6, 2011

Influenced by the role of social media in the recent Middle East uprisings, the United Nations is now saying internet access should be considered a human right, reports the LA Times.

In a report released last Friday, special rapporteur to the UN, Frank La Rue, said 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”.

La Rue added that the internet is “one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century”, referring to open and transparent governance. Where people face injustice, inequality and tight-fisted rule, the internet can play a “key role…in mobilizing the population”, La Rue said.

As such, the UN is urging governments that block internet access are "in contravention [of their] international human rights obligations" and should eschew those laws.

And because internet users tend to actively participate in a canon of content creation rather than being passive spectators, online platforms are an especially valuable tool in countries where there is no independent media, the UN said in its report.

“Such platforms enable individuals to share critical views and to find objective information,” the report read. “By enabling individuals to exchange information and ideas instantaneously and inexpensively across national borders, the internet allows access to information and knowledge that was previously unattainable.

“This, in turn, contributes to the discovery of the truth and progress of society as a whole.”


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