Most would say yes, but it’s important to understand how we’ve come to that conclusion and what we take for granted with internet access.

What is the internet? 

Moss trolls unsuspecting technologically illiterate woman

The internet is a global network of devices connected to each other using network protocols. These days, we rely on the internet for everything. Most students require the internet for their homework, most companies use the internet for business transactions and virtually everyone uses the internet to communicate with others. The internet has come a long way from being a resource tool, yet locating and accessing resources remains one of its greatest advantages. With the internet being necessary for so many things, you could say it’s just as much of a necessity as water, food or shelter.

3.5 Billion people are connected to the internet.

But what about the 4.2 Billion that aren’t? If the internet has so many benefits, what’s stopping everyone from having internet access. One of the most obvious reasons: For some it’s unaffordable. While internet access has been getting cheaper, which is allowing more people to get connected in India, for Lower Income countries internet access is still not cheap enough. Then there’s also the problem of owning a device. Just like internet access, mobile phones have been getting cheaper as well and from personal experience walking through rural areas of Indonesia, even less fortunate families still own a mobile phone. But there’s one final problem that affects Digital Immigrants and the disconnected equally, and that is Digital Literacy.

Digital Literacy, unlike the two previous economic issues, is actually an educational issue. For countries with recent industrial devolpment, digital literacy isn’t so much of a problem since technological advancements can only be made with improved digital literacy. However, for much older developed countries such as the USA or UK, educating the population and teaching them how to use the internet can be difficult. People with less digital literacy are often more scared of the dark underside of the internet, only further enhancing their reasons to not use the internet, which can only be overcome with the government promoting the usage of the internet.

Why the Internet should be a human right

One of the most common arguments against the internet being a human right is that it is not a ‘neccesity’ to live a healthy, fulfilled life in the same capacity that water, food and shelter are. However, with the reasons mentioned above and the fact that the Internet enables access to water, food and shelter as well as its educational benefits, I think not using the internet would be the equivalent of  building your house out of tissue paper or eating rotten food. Sure, you might technically be able to consider it shelter or food but that is not the type of shelter or food that the IDHR works towards, therefore the internet is a necessity and it should be considered a human right.

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