UN To State Policymakers: The Internet Is A Human Right

This month, in an unprecedented report to the United Nations, the UN's Human Rights Council declared that the Internet not only enables individuals to exercise their right to freedom of expression, but is also a critical tool to promote the progress of society as a whole. The report, delivered by Special Rapporteur Frank LaRue, also stressed that expanding Internet access is a necessity for economic development: 

"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." 

The UN report further maintained that there are two prongs to the right to Internet access: (1) access to content and (2) access to the physical and technical infrastructure required to access the Internet in the first place. 

Progressive advocates and state lawmakers across the United States agree strongly with these conclusions. They know that our states cannot achieve economic prosperity without the necessary infrastructure to do so - and that in the 21st century, this infrastructure is now broadband.

As Progressive States Network has highlighted, expanded Internet access facilitates economic development in the United States and across the world. It is clear that the global community now recognizes the critical importance of broadband as well. Consistent with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Internet is the “enabler” of other rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to education.  Further, lack of access, in particular for minority groups and rural residents, perpetuates further economic inequality domestically and globally.  

The UN report concludes that Internet expansion should be a priority for all levels of government, since the Internet is a crucial tool needed to realize a range of human rights. State lawmakers should heed this advice as they look to rebuild prosperity in their states and ensure the economic competitiveness of their communities in what is an increasingly global marketplace.