A United Nations report released Friday declares Internet access a human right. Presented to the General Assembly, the report by UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue states that, “the Internet has become a key means by which individuals can exercise their right to freedom and expression.”
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As LaRue highlighted, Internet access can be particularly valuable during times of political unrest, as evidenced in the Arab Spring uprisings. LaRue emphasized the power of the Internet as a communication medium and said in his report that, “given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states.”
LaRue explains that because “vast potential and benefits of the Internet are rooted in its unique characteristics,” powerful governments often try to block Internet access in an effort to restrict mobilization. He says that, instead, governments should strive, “to make the Internet widely available, accessible and affordable to all.”
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LaRue concludes his report by calling on states to ensure that individuals can have online anonymity, can adopt privacy and data protection laws, and can decriminalize defamation.