Is Internet Access a Human Right?

As ‘outdoorstype’ I’m passionate about sharing the outdoors with the world. As a writer I’m passionate about universal internet access, but it shouldn’t be considered a human right.

A big issue.

Following up on a discussion about equity of internet access I came across links telling me that the UN has declared internet access a human right. That’s a bit awkward, given that Mark Zuckerberg points out that four billion people don’t have internet access anyway.

What are human rights?

The ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ is regarded as the basis for human rights. It describes the right ‘to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

A recent UN report ‘condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online’ and has been hailed as declaring internet access a human right. The Australian Human Rights Commission seems confused and considers valid issues and trends but doesn’t declare internet access a human right.

Now it gets philosophical.

You might agree with the Universal Declaration and the issues raised by the HRC but let’s be careful not to confuse the right to safety and liberty with reading blogs. Vint Cerf, one of the ‘fathers of the internet’ made a compelling case in 2012 that internet access isn’t a human right. US FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly said in 2015 ‘…it is important to recognize the difference between a necessity or a human right and goods such as access to the Internet. Avoiding the use of such rhetorical traps is wise.’

Debate is important.‘s responses are interesting reading. And remember, 64% of the 1.3 million households in Australia without internet access had ‘no need’.

Everyone has the right to live, love, travel and explore, freely and safely.

That’s what’s important to Outdoorstype.

What do you think?

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