Should Internet Access be a Human Right?

Should Internet Access be a Human Right?

Are we at a stage where access to the internet should be a human right? Join Alice Thwaite, Vidushi Marta (Article 19) and Areeq Chowdhury (WebRoots Democracy) to talk about human rights! It’s true that the internet is the facilitator for many human rights. A couple picked out from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights are: freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to work, right to education and the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community. We rely on internet access for many of these things in a modern world.

Some states actually switch off the internet, or social media platforms, to stop protestors and riots. Bloomberg reported that in January alone there were internet shutdowns in 4 African states: Sudan, Gabon, Zimbabwe, DR Congo. For example, in Sudan, there was a shutdown on social media as protestors called for the President, Omar al-Bashir to step down. In DR Congo, the whole country had no internet for 20 days following a contested presidential election.

However, worldwide universal internet access is still a pipedream. In June 2018, 55.1% of the population was online. This is much higher in developed countries, but even then a significant portion of the population rarely uses the internet. In the UK, 89% of the population uses the internet weekly, which means 11% do not. So let’s have a conversation about accessing the internet and human rights.


Areeq Chowdhury is the Founder and Chief Executive of the think tank WebRoots Democracy which explores the intersection of technology and democratic participation. In particular, it focuses on online voting in elections as well as the regulation of social media platforms.

Vidushi Marda is a legal researcher interested in the interplay between emerging technologies, policy, and society. Currently a Digital Programme Officer with ARTICLE 19′s Team Digital, her primary focus is on the ethical, legal, and regulatory issues that arise from algorithmic decision making. She also works on strengthening human rights considerations in internet infrastructure, particularly at internet governance bodies like ICANN and the IEEE.

Interesting links

Vidushi mentioned a couple of UN resolutions which mean that your online rights are equal to your offline rights. Read the Article 19 statement on this here.

If you’d like to know more about ISPs (Internet Service Providers) check out the Wikipedia page here.

Email meeee

My email is alice [at] twaaats [dot] com and my Twitter is @alicelthwaite. Areeq is @AreeqChowdhury and Vidushi is @VidushiMarda.

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