Internet freedom is a human right, rules UN
10 July 2012
The United Nations has ruled that internet freedom is a human right that should be enjoyed by all.
The motion was passed by the UN last week, under the heading “The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet”. The motion affirmed the UN’s belief that all rights protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights need to be respected in an online setting, as well as an offline setting. The motion made particular reference to freedom of expression, a right that has come under attack more frequently in recent years.
The power of freedom of expression online has been demonstrated in many different ways recently, with the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia being particularly significant and cogent example. Other countries, such as China, have come under fire from other countries for extensive censorship of their internet. China is sceptical that complete internet freedom would be a good idea, a belief shared by other major countries, including Russia and India.
The US was among those pleased with the resolution, with secretary of state Hillary Clinton adding freedom of news and information in certain countries is “under threat”. An envoy for Tunisia added words of support, calling the recognition of this right “the most important result of the Tunisian revolution”.
However, Cuban diplomat Juan Antonio Quintanilla pointed out that the motion failed to make any mention of how the internet is governed, adding the internet is “controlled by a single country”, referring to the USA. He added that this “hampers free access to this very important tool.”
Delegates are set to vote on internet governance at a UN meeting in December, voting on whether the UN’s International Telecommunications Union should be granted more control over the internet.