These days, we spend so much time online. We use the internet for so much, from communicating with others to doing our shopping and watching TV shows/films, that many of us can’t imagine life without it. Internet access is becoming more and more readily available – there are even benches with their own Wi-Fi hotspots. But should internet access ever be considered a human right?
The general consensus is that everyone should the right to access the internet. Major international organisations such as the UN have decreed that internet access is a human right that must be protected. But then, there’s the problem that not everyone has internet access. There are estimated to be some 3.8 billion people – over half the world’s population – who don’t have regular access to the internet, mainly because of poverty.
The UN even passed a non-binding resolution that would criticise countries where people’s internet access is taken away. The reason the UN is so in favour of universal internet access is that they see people with access as having an advantage; those who can’t access the internet are therefore at a disadvantage. Ideally, everyone would be able to go online so they can enjoy all the internet’s benefits. The UN doesn’t want the world to be divided into people who can access the internet and are at an advantage, and those without access who are at a disadvantage.
But then there’s always going to be a divide. After all, with half of the world’s population living in poverty, how can everyone have round-the-clock internet access? It could well be that in several decades or generations, more and more people in developing countries have access to the internet. On the other hand, it may be that the gap between the haves and the have-nots becomes greater and maybe even a greater percentage of the population have to live without internet access.
Being able to go online is, frankly, a necessity. So much of 21st century life revolves around or involves the internet. Not being able to go online does put people at a disadvantage, simply because so much is done online. Internet access should indeed be a human right, since it’s such an important resource and used for so much. With the world become ever so interconnected via the internet, surely everyone should have the right to be involved?