Internet access is a human right, according to a United Nations report released on Friday.
“Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states,” said the report from Frank La Rue, a special rapporteur to the United Nations, who wrote the document “on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”
La Rue said in his report that access to the Internet is particularly important during times of political unrest, as demonstrated by the recent “Arab Spring” uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, among other countries.
From the report:
The Special Rapporteur believes that the Internet is one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century for increasing transparency in the conduct of the powerful, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in building democratic societies.
Indeed, the 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 that while the Internet has been in existence since the 1960s, it is the way people now use the Internet, across the world and across age groups, with “incorporation into virtually every aspect of modern human life,” that makes the Internet an unprecedented force.