Internet Access a Human Right says UN

Jun 13, 2011
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Supposedly inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and the ongoing debate around online whistleblowing, last week the United Nations sent out a report declaring that internet access is a human right, stating that “the Internet has become a key means by which individuals can exercise their right to freedom and expression.”

For most of us it may seem like connecting to the ‘net is as easy as pouring a glass of water, but as many of our contributors in Central Asia will attest, for a large – and often forgotten – proportion of people, it can be extremely difficult to access a fast and secure connection, making normal tasks including downloading email attachments and viewing streaming content incredibly frustrating. Surprisingly, however, the UN states that up to 10 percent of Americans can’t access internet that is fast enough to perform basic functions, either.

The declaration is certainly welcomed, but what will it actually mean for those left behind in the ever-developing online world? By concentrating on instituting policies protecting the right to assert oneself freely online it seems that the actually practicalities of accessing the internet in the first place has been forgotten about. A push for free Wi-Fi hotspots, for example, would be a step in the right direction, or privatizing state-run telecoms companies to offer more competitive and affordable services for the end user.

About the Author

Andrew Fenwick

Andrew is multimedia editor at Transitions Online and a freelance journalist. Email:
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