A new study has shown that free internet access should become a human right as it can be used to protect other basic human rights such as life, liberty, and freedom from torture.
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Philosophy, revealed that internet access is crucial as a human right as people as basic freedoms including free expression, freedom of information and freedom of assembly are undermined if some citizens do not have access to the internet.
Dr. Merten Reglitz, Lecturer in Global Ethics at the University of Birmingham, said: “Internet access is no luxury, but instead a moral human right and everyone should have unmonitored and uncensored access to this global medium — provided free of charge for those unable to afford it.”
“Without such access, many people lack a meaningful way to influence and hold accountable supranational rulemakers and institutions. These individuals simply don’t have a say in the making of the rules they must obey and which shape their life chances,” argued Dr. Reglitz.
He pointed out that exercising free speech and obtaining information now heavily rely on internet access, making the relative value of these freedoms lower for people who are offline.
While he acknowledges that online access does not guarantee these rights, he mentioned several instances where internet access played a role in holding governments and institutions accountable.
These include the #MeToo campaign that helped address sexual harassment of women by men in power, the documentation of unjustified police violence against African Americans in the US, and the “Arab Spring” ways of global reporting on government atrocities.
Dr. Reglitz also said: “Universal internet access need not cost the earth — accessing politically important opportunities such as blogging, obtaining information, joining virtual groups, or sending and receiving emails does not require the latest information technology.”
He argued that the human right to internet access was similar to the global right to health, which cannot force the highest possible medical treatment globally as some governments lack resources to provide such services.