Should Internet Access Be a Basic Human Right? [Poll]

When we think of the basic human rights, we think of the right to life and freedom of speech. These are just things every person deserves no matter who they are or the conditions they live in. But what about Internet access? It was recently ruled to be a basic human right, but should it be? Should Internet access be a basic human right?

In just a few decades the Internet has become increasingly important to us. It may have started out as the information superhighway, but now it’s the way we spend our downtime, our work day, and our social life. The Internet is piped in to our computers, phones, and even our watches.

Despite Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and India opposing the move, the United Nations Human Rights Council in June passed a non-binding resolution condemning countries that intentionally take away or disrupt access to the Internet for its citizens.

If you spend most of your day on the Internet you won’t have to worry about your country taking it away from you just as they can’t deny you the freedom of speech. And perhaps this means that it will become even easier to get Internet access. Perhaps it will even be free at some point if you want to take the argument even further.

But is the Internet as important as the right to life? Is it as important as the freedom of speech? Where do you sit with this issue? Do you believe your country should not be able to take it away from you? Or do you believe that it’s okay for them to use it as a privilege?

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. That sounds like another high-minded and poorly thought out boondogle proposal from the United Nations.

    How about the right to clean water, adequate food and basic medical care? Aren’t they a bit more important than the right to be exploited by Facebook or other social networks? How about providing people with electricity they need to connect to the Internet?

  2. I agree with Dragonmouth. The problem with a lot of the things the UN declares to be a “right”, is who will pay for it? I love the Internet as a source of information that used to be fulfilled by “the Library”, but no Library could ever stock all the information available on the Internet. And the Library has a closing time! There are areas of the world, where the individual governments don’t want their citizens to have access to all that is available, so they regulate what is available. Over time, some people have figured out how to “go around” these restrictions, but not everyone in those areas is aware of these “go arounds”. Of course these repressive governments consider these activities to be illegal and treat these people as criminals. All of this has no meaning to the indiginous peoples of the Amazon Jungle, because they are not even aware of what is happening in the Persian Gulf, nor do they care. But they do care about the gold miners putting arsenic in the rivers where they get their drinking water.

  3. You cannot have a basic right where anyone else is compelled to provide something to you. Once you do so, you are making indentured servants out of those who are the suppliers. Thus, you cannot have a “right” to the Internet, because someone else has to invent, implement and maintain that Internet. You can’t have a “right” to someone supplying you with electricity – as then you are compelling them to create that electricity. Basic rights are those such as my right to free speech, my right to bear arms (though no one is compelled to PROVIDE me with any), my right to not be harmed by others for undue cause. The right to clean water is conceivable, but more along the lines that persons should be prohibited from polluting the public water sources, not that someone else is obligated to provide me with clean running water in my home.

    1. @Doug A:
      It is very easy to philosophize and split hairs about what is and is not a “basic right” when one lives in the ivory towers of the First World where water, food and medical care are legacy items.

      My point is that before the United Nations starts inventing “basic human rights” like the right to the Internet (whether free or paid) they should figure out how to ensure that NOBODY lives knee-deep in s**t and EVERYBODY has access to clean water, adequate nutrition and basic medical treatment. Of what use is Internet access to people who try to make a living by spending their days digging through toxic garbage dumps looking for salable items?! I’m sure that the people in West Africa that are exposed to Ebola, Dengue Fever, etc on a daily basis are just dying to watch Dancing Baby and cat videos on YouTube. Yeah, they’re dying of malnutrition! Meanwhile the esteemed UN delegates to the General Assembly in New York City are thinking up new basic rights for the rest of the world. What’s next? A resolution declaring car ownership or house ownership as a “basic human right”??? That’s the problem with Liberal Social Justice Warriors. They are forever spending other people’s money on providing items and services that the recipients could really do without while ignoring the recipients’ basic requirements.

      1. @Dragonmouth – I think we’re actually closer to agreement than you might think, but we are approaching this from two very different perspectives. God is the one who defines our basic rights, not the UN or any other government. The “ivory tower” of the United States (as you put it) got where we are because our founders (for the most part) recognized the need of government to defend our basic rights, but also to provide us the freedom to succeed or fail based on our own hard work and our willingness (but not compulsion) to work together. We are not guaranteed good health, or even water, food, and shelter, and it is not our “right” to have all these things, although access to these things should also not be prohibited. For example, my neighbor shouldn’t be able to block the stream that runs downstream into my property, and they should be prohibited from poisoning my water. In a village, everyone has the right to go to the river to gather water, but if you choose not to go to the river, no one else is obligated to get the water for you (though if you are sick or handicapped, Jesus teaches that we certainly should help you get that water!) The problem in many third world countries is that persons are not permitted to exercise their basic rights. As soon as they begin to build farms, create fresh-water aqueducts, and so forth, others come in and push them out and destroy the land. I’m trying to be careful in defining “rights”, not to split hairs, but because the incorrect use of this term breeds attitudes of entitlement, like the one expressed here that we somehow have a right to Internet access. And finally, none of this is to say that communities, churches, etc., shouldn’t get together to help provide for the needs of the poor, sick and destitute; but this is our duty and privilege to do so.

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