The Internet as a Fundamental Right?

Mobility, Equality, Internet, Language? Which of these doesn’t fit? According to a recent BBC survey all of them fit. A sizable majority of nearly 28,000 respondents from 26 countries (79%) indicated that they feel that the Internet is a fundamental human right, BBC story. The data from the survey of 26 countries has other interesting results. The three countries who had the highest percentage who believed the internet was a fundamental right were: South Korea (96%), Mexico (94%), and China (87%). In Canada 77% of respondents felt that the internet should be a fundamental right of all people, while 64% of Canadian respondents stated that they could “cope without the Internet”. Other interesting findings were the most valued aspect of the internet (In Canada: communication, overall: finding information), should the internet be regulated by government (somewhat higher in Canada than overall) and aspects of the internet that cause the most concern (Canada and overall: Fraud followed closely by violent and explicit content) . Lastly about one-third or respondents felt that the internet was a good place to find a boyfriend/girlfriend, I’m not sure if that ties into the fundamental right question or not………. View the results for yourself.

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  1. Some country’s courts have also found that an Internet connection is a human right, or at least an important enough right that it cannot be taken away arbitrarily. This issue comes up in the discussions in various countries of ‘three strikes’ rules, that would allow or require the disconnection from the Internet of someone who has illegally downloaded (or uploaded) copyrigh material three times (getting warnings after the first two). The design of such systems varies, and the amount of judicial oversight or evidence of illegality of the behaviour. For example, France had to redesign its law when the Constitutional Court said people could not be cut off without a court order.

    Whether this character as a ‘human right’ influences the desirability of a three-strikes rule or just its design may be open to debate.