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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Internet Access: A Fundamental Right

The internet is a tool through which people can exercise freedom of speech and expression. Each and every person has the right to access and open Internet, which is neither censored nor filtered by government or business.

Access to internet as a fundamental right is gaining strength around the world. BBC reports that countries like Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human rights for their citizens. The EU also recently adopted an internet freedom provision, stating that any measure taken by member states that may affect citizens' access to or use of the internet "must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens". Countries like Mexico, Brazil and Turkey also strongly support the idea of internet access as a right. Read more here.

Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) stated, "The right to communicate cannot be ignored. The internet is the most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created." He said that governments must "regard the internet as a basic infrastructure - just like roads, waste and water". "We have entered the knowledge society and everyone must have access to participate." 

That said, there are governments who seek to censor information and the media, thus undermining the internet's potential. For instance, in countries like China, Iran and Russia, governments frequently censor information and persecute bloggers and other online activists who they see as a threat to the status quo.

The right to access to internet is coming to the forefront. In fact, according to The New York Times, the United States is seeking to exploit the internet's potential for prying open closed societies by allowing technology companies to export online services like instant messaging, chat and photo sharing to Iran, Cuba and Sudan.


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