Internet Access as a Human Rights Issue

Is Internet access a human right? Many people and organizations seem to think so.

In July and August 2012 the Internet Society conducted online interviews of more than 10,000 Internet users in 20 countries. In response to the statement “Access to the Internet should be considered a basic human right”:

  • 83% responded that they somewhat or strongly agreed
  • 14% that they somewhat or strongly disagreed
  • 3% didn’t know.


Access to at least 10mb/s was just decided to be a legal right in the UK. Meaning that by 2020 people will be able to legally request a minimum speed of 10mb/s from their ISP. [1]

Wikipedia foundation Wikimedia is working to provide people who normally don’t have access to the internet with access to Wikipedia. [2] Facebook and others are doing the same, albeit not for the same humanitarian reason of providing knowledge to the third world.

In 2010 Finland was the first country in the world to declare broadband access a human right. [3]

In Summer of 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a non-binding resolution condemning intentional disruption of internet access by governments. [4] The resolution reaffirmed that “the same rights people have offline must also be protected online”.[5]

Roughly 80% of Americans surveyed by various agencies stated that they support net neutrality. [6]

In light of this it seems odd that the American Federal Communications Commission recently rolled back legal protections ensuring equal internet access to all broadband customers without plans to replace them. Perhaps it’s even illegal according to international law.

What is clear is that the overwhelming majority of the worlds citizens support basic internet access as a legal right.

Now why might that be?

  • The internet makes mundane task easier. (such as paying taxes and bills and looking for jobs.)
  • It provides everyone with the opportunity to educate themselves. (Provided people can weed out false information)
  • The opportunity for anonymity allows people to express their opinions without risk of repercussions. This is great for democracy and debate.

These are just the most fundamental reasons why internet access should be available to everyone.

The witch hunt that has been going on to effectively shut down the internet since the SOPA bill was proposed is absolutely appalling. So far we have managed to save the internet. Should ISP’s tackle advantage of the lack of protections for net neutrality it will only open up a business opportunity for whatever ISP does not abuse it’s customers by implementing pay walls and fast lanes.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to make their voice heard about protecting equal internet access. This is just a friendly reminder of that.

We might have lost the first battle for net neutrality, but internet access as a human right is still a concept being pushed more and more worldwide. In the long run, whatever country does not ensure internet access for every citizen is going to look backwards and ridiculous.