November 17, 2010

Internet access as a human right

Five countries have now declared internet access as a fundamental human right. Four of these countries are in Europe (Estonia, Finland, France and Greece) and one is in Central America (Costa Rica). Interestingly, there is quite a range of internet penetration rates in these countries:

Costa Rica: 43%
Estonia: 75%
Finland: 85%
France: 69%
Greece: 46%

It is likely that there will soon be other additions to this list. There is a strong push for universal internet access by major international organisations. The secretary-general of the ITU, for example, stated that governments should "regard the internet as basic infrastructure - just like roads, waste, and water." A recent BBC World Service poll found that 79% of people, in a poll of 27,000 people conducted across 26 countries, consider internet access to be a fundamental right. However, our representatives clearly remain more sceptical about codifying human rights. This extends to more than just internet access. For instance, last July the United Nations even passed a resolution recognizing that access to clean water was a human right: 122 countries voted in favor, while 41 abstained (including the U.S.) .

It will therefore be interesting to see how this map changes over the next few years. Please provide feedback on any changes that should be made to this list.


  1. i would not mind having internet access as a basic right, though it can serve as a side-dish to the basic rights that humans really need. :)

  2. The internet isn't a basic human right. A basic human right would be something like getting what you earned and using it as you wish. If you want internet access, pay for it yourself. If you want someone else to have internet access, pay for it and encourage (don't force) others to do likewise. I might have a right to pay for what I want to pay for whether it be for me and my kin or for charity. I would support a charity that wanted to provide internet to people. Google might just do that in Africa. I would donate to Google for that cause. I would not support a Government forcing me (and others) to pay for it. Charity must be an individual act of love, not a law.