Should internet be deemed a basic human right?

Should internet be deemed a basic human right?

Apart from its tragic outcomes for global health, the COVID-19 pandemic came along with travel restrictions and orders that people study and work at home. The internet was championed as the remedy for those asked to stay home. And for many, it certainly was a saviour. Yet COVID-19 exposed the underlying reality that not everyone had an internet connection in their homes — including numerous in the wealthiest countries in the world. While there is a lot of debate that internet access should be a fundamental human right provided by the government, the exact dynamics of the necessity aren’t adequately realised.

In 2016, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to “declare internet access a human right.” 

However, the Resolution did not address governmental responsibility to ensure access to all. Instead, it centred on stopping governments from “snatching” access. The Resolution is considered “soft law” as opposed to “hard law,” which means that nation-states do not face penalties for not adhering to it. COVID-19 truly exposed this as a limited approach by the UN towards deeming internet access as a right.

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Overwhelmingly, studies around the world signify that internet access is vital for access to jobs and education and for ensuring freedom of speech and access to information. 

In fact, access to information is the difference between life and death for many countries as the world battles numerous sociopolitical issues and a pandemic. 

A lack of access to the internet is not only a developing world problem. Research shows that five pc of US citizens are not active internet users — which is around 14 million people. Similarly, about 24 million people don’t have broadband at home, which hampers the ability to work and attend classes in this age of online meetings and submission of deliverables.

However, it is pertinent to state that under current human rights law, no government is obligated to ensure access for those who cannot afford it.

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