Internet as a Fundamental Right?

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If some people could have their way, you would be the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. ‘You’ in this case means the billions of people who use Internet daily.  So a Nobel peace prize for the Internet should not be a big surprise!

In a study held recently, BBC estimated the number of Internet users in the world. According to their calculation, 171.95 crore people around the globe use Internet. Every day 3.37 lakh blog posts are created or updated in the cyberspace. The emergence of social networking has also contributed largely to these huge numbers. Internet has not only reduced the distance but also revolutionized the way people communicate.

Recently BBC conducted a world wide survey and the result of the same declared that Internet access should become ‘a fundamental right’. According to the poll, four in five people around the world believe that access to the Internet should be made a fundamental right. 27,000 adults from 26 countries participated in the poll. A major milestone has been paved by countries like Finland and Estonia in this regard. They have ruled that ‘access to Internet is a human right for their citizens’. International organizations such as UN and others are working hard to push Universal Net Access. The recent duel between Google and China signals a major change in the Internet access scenario across the globe. No one can ignore the possibilities offered by Internet now. One can, without any fear, say that Internet access is more than a human right.

According to Dr Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), “The Internet is the most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created”. In his opinion Internet should be regarded as a basic infrastructure – just like roads, water and electricity. Majority of the participants shared the view that governments should never involve in regulation of Internet. The poll came in the light of the UK Government’s Digital Economy Bill which intends to ‘disconnect or slow down the net connections of persistent illegal file-sharers’. Many European countries are also considering a similar regulation. Meanwhile UK is going to provide universal broadband in the country by 2012. 87 percent of the people expressed their views in the poll felt that Internet is the “fundamental right of all the people”.

People from the developing countries such as Brazil and India also back the view that Internet is one’s fundamental right. While food, cloth and shelter are the basic needs of man, access to information is vital for survival for a person living in the global village. Internet provides this fourth basic need. It is the responsibility of the government to provide Internet access to its citizens. It is believed that half of the world’s population would be using Internet in the coming days. A promising future is everyone’s right and so is Internet.
 
Pramod Thomas
pramod.pmd@gmail.com

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