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UN Declares Internet a “Fundamental Human Right”

UN Declares Internet a “Fundamental Human Right”

The Internet is a fundamental human right, a United Nations report released on Friday proclaims — a statement that resonates all the more in the wake of the recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and the ongoing uprisings and protests in the Middle East and North Africa. The Internet, and sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, played a huge role in helping protesters organize and spread information and also in spreading the word about what was going on around the world.

Says the UN report on the “promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression”:

The Special Rapporteur underscores the unique and transformative nature of the Internet not only to enable individuals to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, but also a range of other human rights, and to promote the progress of society as a whole.”

On the very day of the UN’s announcement, two-thirds of the Internet access went out in Syria. It’s a move that suggests the government’s continuing efforts to clamp down months of protests by asserting its authority, often brutally — and yet Friday also saw some of the biggest protests yet, with 50,000 reportedly marching in the city of Hama.

When Egypt’s now-ousted president Hosni Mubarak cut off the Internet, there was international outcry. Mubarak and other former senior officials now face $34 million in fines for the Internet blackout, a harsh reminder to dictators that, if you cut off access, you will have to pay.

Indeed the UN report highlights the recent pro-democracy protests in the Arab world:

[T]he recent wave of demonstrations in countries across the Middle East and North African region has shown the key role that the Internet can play in mobilizing the population to call for justice, equality, accountability and better respect for human rights,” the report notes. “As such, facilitating access to the Internet for all individuals, with as little restriction to online content as possible, should be a priority for all States.

The Atlantic points out that some other countries, including Estonia, France and Costa Rica have already passed laws declaring Internet access a fundamental human right. Finland’s law even goes so far as to specify broadband speed:

In 2009, Finland, the report notes, “passed a decree … stating that every Internet connection needs to have a speed of at least one Megabit per second (broadband level).” There, should they need to, people will be able to organize even faster.

On a somewhat lighter note, it’s possible the UN’s resolution could cause parents a bit of a headache. Just wait till we hear reports of a teenager protesting Mom and Dad for deprivation of his “fundamental human right” because he’s been grounded by not being able to use the computer.

 

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Image by Wilfried Huss / Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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10:30AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Scott F, the quran - nothing 'holy' about it - most definitely DOES incite violence, hatred, rape, murder, pillaging, etc. Have you actually sat down & read the thing from cover to cover? Have you actually researched the UNBIASED history behind the quran, not the 'history' which 'Islamic scholars' claim? Have you thoroughly researched the insane claims that these very same mentally unstable, uneducated 'scholars' make in regards to Islam, the quran, and the pedophile Muhammad? I know you haven't just from the comments you've made.

The unholy quran is just as twisted & made up by power hungry lunatics as is the unholy bible. I too could not let your drivel go unanswered. Those who believe in fairy tales, goblins in the sky called 'lucifer', & self proclaimed or make believe 'prophets' should not attempt to come across as experts on anything, much less their own or others' religion. That type of nonsensical asshattery simply announces to the world that you are a gullible fool who strives to prove that your fairy tale & goblins are far superior to your neighbors'.

10:30AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Scott F, the quran - nothing 'holy' about it - most definitely DOES incite violence, hatred, rape, murder, pillaging, etc. Have you actually sat down & read the thing from cover to cover? Have you actually researched the UNBIASED history behind the quran, not the 'history' which 'Islamic scholars' claim? Have you thoroughly researched the insane claims that these very same mentally unstable, uneducated 'scholars' make in regards to Islam, the quran, and the pedophile Muhammad? I know you haven't just from the comments you've made.

The unholy quran is just as twisted & made up by power hungry lunatics as is the unholy bible. I too could not let your drivel go unanswered. Those who believe in fairy tales, goblins in the sky called 'lucifer', & self proclaimed or make believe 'prophets' should not attempt to come across as experts on anything, much less their own or others' religion. That type of nonsensical asshattery simply announces to the world that you are a gullible fool who strives to prove that your fairy tale & goblins are far superior to your neighbors'.

5:23AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Oops. Apologies for my typos... :-)

5:22AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Scott F., I appreciate your comments and thoughtfulness very much, especially "evil loves to be evil and then blame it on good."

That said, unfortunately, the scripture in all the major religions do call for violence against non-believers, particularly in the Old Testament, which forms the basis of the three most popular religions worldwide. Taking that text literally is largely why there is politically-induced starvation, looting, land grabs, rape, the stealing of rights in general, "ordained" hatred against those outside one's believe and the slaying of masses of people across the globe.

Those in our own government who claim they are "pro-life" and love God are the first and most insistent that our unholy war in the Middle East continue. As someone raised Christian, I have always found the construct of a "devil" is a morally lazy explanation for ungodly behavior, and I don't buy it, frankly. Moreover, I have yet to meet a fundamentalist of any religion who does not espouse hatred when given the opportunity to point out why their way is the best. And this is a lifelong observation of mine. I don't condemn religion, but overall, it needs an overhaul.

3:56AM PDT on Jun 22, 2011

More people will welcome this declaration. Is absurd, if any State which cut the use of the Internet because they live in the dark world of communication, cover himself with the outside world. It is a deprivation of principled thing to everyone and this violates the basic rights of every human being. United Nations as the supreme organization of World Human Rights decent fight for human rights in those countries. Shut down with the intention of the crime really silly.



7:13PM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

For better or worse, this IS 'The Age of the Internet". The 'Facebook Factor' or social internet networking institutes that enables a free media in nations in the mid-east that never had it before, is facilitating all these revolutions. On the lighter side, the 'Facebook Factor' might be the death knell of Al Quaida and related terrorist organizations, since they have always been about absolute control over the peasants, and now finally, for the first time in history, the sheep are looking up!

7:28AM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

Every student should have access to an internet.

1:52PM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

Congradulations Tom!

You have won a copy of the thinking human award!

Original Message:
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Hello,

Tom left a comment on the following article:


UN Declares Internet a "Fundamental Human Right"
We need to remember what rights genuinely are: the core recognition of natural value and respect for dignity that must be extended to every human person, on the grounds that each person is indeed a human being! The UN lost sight of this elementary truth long ago, which is why it can make such a ridiculous proclamation. It might as well declare a "fundamental right" to cell phone ownership and drivers' licenses. Since the Islamist regimes countered by the "Arab Spring" don't bother with recognizing the dignity of any of its citizens, it's doubtful a UN proclamation will suddenly sway them to provide universal Internet access! The dictators will just laugh, knowing the only way the UN would act against them is if they suddenly became Israelis...

1:16PM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

Of; "free, fed, healthy and educated", only one of them qualifies as a fundamental right!

Original Message:
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Hello,

Jan left a comment on the following article:


UN Declares Internet a "Fundamental Human Right"
The internet is a wonderful tool that people should be able to use without restrictions, but it’s a long way from a fundamental human right. Once everyone is free, fed, healthy and educated, then I’ll worry about their internet access.

4:47PM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

Thanks, I totally agree!

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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