A massive gain for human rights has been achieved, while a massive blow has been delt to the “rights’ of exploiters. The United Nations has declared that internet access is now a human right. This new right has come about as a result of the collaborations among Arab citizens resisting dictatorships and the Obama administration’s war on whistle blowers
The office of UN Secretary General, Frank La Rue:
“an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress… facilitating access to the Internet for all individuals, with as little restriction to online content as possible, should be a priority for all States.”
The special UN rapporteur also pointed out the dangers governments and powerful people are posing to the freedom of internet traffic, and its possibilities:
“The vast potential and benefits of the Internet are rooted in its unique characteristics, such as its speed, worldwide reach and relative anonymity. At the same time, these distinctive features of the Internet that enable individuals to disseminate information in “real time” and to mobilize people has also created fear amongst Governments and the powerful. This has led to increased restrictions on the Internet through the use of increasingly sophisticated technologies to block content, monitor and identify activists and critics, criminalization of legitimate expression, and adoption of restrictive legislation to justify such measures.”
This announcement comes on the heels of the US Pentagon declaring cyber attacks to be an “act of war”. I can find little doubt that this ruling by the UN came out as a counter to the new threat to Internet freedom posed by the Pentagon. Many believe that phoney attacks will be orchestrated against US systems in a bid to push for more wars around the globe. The potential for abuse by the US government is staggering. “Terrorist attacks” can now be claimed to have happened through the Internet without ever having to show a single bit of proof they even took place. It is almost literally impossible to prove they didn’t happen, or that they were the work of an inside job. There is no doubt in my that such phoney attacks will be claimed as a justification for further repression of the Internet and as a justification for further wars.
Telecommunication companies are no doubt watching these events with interest. The decoration that Internet access is a human right will no doubt interfere with the operation of a “free market enterprise”. The strength that private companies has over Internet communication in the West. How can you be denied a service that has been declared a human right? What is not known at the moment is exactly how are governments going to provide Internet access to those who can’t afford it now that it is a right. It is a very interesting situation that we all need to pay attention to.