July 5, 2016
At this point in history, internet access is a necessity. You need it to go to work. You need it to hang out with friends. You even need it to see what’s happening in the news. And while many of us freak out when our routers go down for more than a few minutes, some countries experience planned, nation-wide blackouts for hours, even days due to everything from riots to dishonest students. And according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, that’s a violation of basic human rights.
That’s right, after passing a non-binding resolution, the Council condemns countries that intentionally take away or disrupt the internet access of its citizens. The resolution passed before the weekend and was supported by more than 70 countries. However, there were a number of notable countries that opposed the resolution, including Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and India. Which, if we’re being honest, probably means it was a good idea.
According to a statement from Article 19, a British organization that promotes freedom of expression and information, the disappointment felt in response to these clearly combative countries when it comes to the right of the people to use internet is palpable:
“We are disappointed that democracies like South Africa, Indonesia, and India voted in favor of these hostile amendments to weaken protections for freedom of expression online,” said Thomas Hughes, executive director of Article 19. “A human rights based approach to providing and expanding Internet access, based on states’ existing international human rights obligations, is essential to achieving the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, and no state should be seeking to slow this down.”
The resolution further outlines the importance of internet access to established and developing countries alike. It provides educational opportunities, economic equality, and great potential to progress human kind. It also explains that privacy on the internet is important, that accountability of internet users is integral, and the use of this technology to improve the status of women and girls in our culture should be a priority.
Unfortunately, as many know, the UN has no authority to enforce this resolution. While the stigma of violating human rights is substantial, there are plenty of countries that have proven that their commitment to preserving social good is rarely trumped by their desire to control their citizens. And if internet access becomes the new revolutionary platform, these countries are going to have a hard time keeping the descenders from voicing their displeasure.
H / T Gizmodo
Photo: Flickr / Perspecsys Photos
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