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Is access to the internet a fundamental human right?

09:45 UK time, Monday, 8 March 2010

Nearly four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests. Do you think being able to use the web is a human right?

The survey, in which more than 27,000 adults from 26 countries participated, found strong support for access to the web. Already countries such as Finland and Estonia have ruled that access to cyberspace is a human right for their citizens.

Meanwhile, the US has eased sanctions on the sale of online services to Iran, Cuba and Sudan, to help further web use and support opposition groups.

Is the internet a basic human right? Do you think people who have access to the internet are better informed? Could you live without being able to access the web?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.


Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    There are wide sectors of population in the developing world for whom the Internet is essential to provide any kind of education beyond the basis 3 Rs because there are no local teachers or colleges, or no pay for those that do exist. When well-intentioned Western charities do set up Internet connections overseas, they also have to send people to train people to train people in their own language on how to use the Internet.

    The most depressing discovery that new Internauts make in developing countries is to find out how cynical, how dumbed-down and how ignorant are the internet users in Western countries for who a connection to the internet is as normal as having a phone.

    If we have the Internet as a human right, this right should be treated with greater respect. It should be the portal to knowledge, not to websites packed full of hatred.

  • Comment number 2.

    Is this an April Fools Day joke?

    I love the internet, but is it a fundamental human right?

    I think not.

  • Comment number 3.

    Is access to the internet a fundamental human right?

    I would have thought things like food, water and shelter would be more important.

    So what next, is a TV a human right ? A mobile phone, 3G of course ? A washing machine ? A tumble dryer ?, A Play Station 3 ? Maybe it's a human right to have a car ?

  • Comment number 4.

    If it is how come I have to pay for it.

  • Comment number 5.

    How on earth can the use of the internet be regarded as a human right? We are going down the level of pathetic stupidity if this is to be regarded as a fundamental human right.
    Imagine if there was a month long power cut, would there be marches on the streets demanding the right to be restored and legal actions enacted to gain compensation.

  • Comment number 6.

    Debatable really. I've always considered computers and the Internet a privilege rather than a right. Surely access to clean water, sanitation, healthcare, education, electricity and freedom of speech, religion, sexuality, press and expression are far more important.
    Access to knowledge and information is important, so I suppose having access to the Internet counts as part of that, but then you get a similar amount of knowledge and entertainment from the TV, so perhaps you might as well say that access to the telly is a fundamental human right too, which is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm guessing that for every four people who say it is, there'll be one that says it isn't.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's nonsense like this that has diluted the meaning and impact of the Human Rights Act. The HRA is not, and was never, about something as frivolous as ensuring prisoners have an internet connection, it was about something far more important.

    The HRA is a vital component of our and any other society's ability to call themselves civilised. It ensures that any anyone, simply for the virtue of being human, has a right to be treated as such. A right to not be tortured, a right to be heard, a right to fair trial or a right to, you know, not be murdered and stuff. All absolutely vital bases to any civilised society.

    Saying things like internet access should be a human right is the kind of daftness that leads to equally daft comments demanding it be repealed, or that criminals gave up their human rights when they commited a crime (which leads me to believe that some people should really look up the difference between a right and a privilege).

    The HRA is not concerned with superficial nonsense like internet access, it is concerned with ensuring that mankind is not ever in a position where is can be abused, tortured and killed without repercussions. Anyone who doesn't recognise it as the single most important piece of legislature in existence should really hope they never need to depend on it for protection.

  • Comment number 9.

    How can anyone in any way shape or form think that this could possibly be a human right of any kind.

  • Comment number 10.

    "Internet Access" A human right? Who would fund it on a large scale. Who would offer the people of Darfur the right to access the Internet rather that their other "Human Rights". Will we be able to Demand a Computer in our quest for our "Human Rights".The one that thought up this one needs psychiatric help.

  • Comment number 11.

    So, there'll have to be a further amendment to the United States Declaration of Independence, which will henceforth read "Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and internet access".

  • Comment number 12.

    I find the concept of declaring all sorts of things a 'right' ridiculous.

    If people living in a country that didnt invent the internet and where there is insufficient wealth to provide everyone with access want to claim they have a right to it that is nonsense.

    If you want it , work for it. If you cant afford it tough.

  • Comment number 13.

    The Internet is not a right but it is essential for conducting business and in the near future be the ONLY credible way of spreading education throughout the world. It is in all governments interest to have the very best internet connections for their populations.Knowledge is power for all nations.

  • Comment number 14.

    Er i think food water and not being done to death comes along way ahead of internet usage .

  • Comment number 15.

    I would find it difficult to live to live without the internet as I use it everyday to communicate, research, work, play and so on. But would I call it my basic human right to have the internet? No. It's a privilege but not a basic right. I could live without it and still live well. I could not live without food, fresh water, shelter etc etc.....these are my basic human rights

  • Comment number 16.

    No, it is not a human right. It is a source of information and entertainment like telly which is also not a human right. Access to clean water, food, a fair legal system and healthcare is more the sort of thing I expect to see as a human right.

  • Comment number 17.

    Simple answer... No

  • Comment number 18.

    Only when it is a basic human right to be on electricity, be connected to a telephone line and own a computer will it be a "right" to be on the internet. The totality of mankind's qualities have not been improved one whit by the internet.

  • Comment number 19.

    What complete and uter nonsense.

    The only right you have is to air and water in my view, you earn the rest through hard work and being a productive member of society

  • Comment number 20.

    Fundamental Human right? certainly not.

    I spend 2/3 hours a day online and am an active twitterer/ blogger - but I see that as being a fundamental right, its a luxury, a privilege.

    What are fundamental human rights? Food, Clean Water, Shelter, Family - how many people in the world don't have access to these rights?

    Whoever thinks the internet belongs in this list needs to take a reality check and think about what they are actually saying! Do you think people in Haiti right now would rather have shelter, food and water or access to the internet?

  • Comment number 21.

    As long as to read, write, call, talk is a universial right, so is any other form of electronic communication...

  • Comment number 22.

    It is a basic human very high cost which we cannot afford but have all been forced to pay because other wise we are disenfranchised and disadvantaged. Everything I have saved by paying bills on the internet has been eaten up by the cost of paying for the internet. Someone is making money and benefiting from this but I suspect it will never be the ordinary paying public.

  • Comment number 23.

    I distinctly remembering a lady on Radio 2 a while ago arguing that you could be below the poverty line and still have Sky TV claiming it was a basic human right.

    The internet while useful as a means of communication is by no means a human right. Why not run this poll past people who have no food, clean water, shelter and access to decent medical services and see what they think.

    Only those who no longer have to worry about the basics of surviving could be so thoughtless to claim the internet as a basic human right.

  • Comment number 24.

    A human right? can we get real here for a moment. One third of the world's population is underfed, and one third is starving (WHO statistics). On literacy rates, in Afghanistan for example just 28.1% of the population over 15 can read and write (CIA statistics).

    There are a lot of very basic human rights that need to be addressed before we can worry ourselves about the internet. This proposition only goes to show how selfish and spoilt the worlds 'haves' are.

    Articles like this debase the meaning of 'Human Rights' as do articles where relative inequality is dressed up as 'Poverty'. Our journalists and politicians need to get out of Islington a bit more.

  • Comment number 25.

    I would have thought that deciding internet access is a basic human right sets a dangerous precedent. Firstly it could mean that those who should not have internet access (e.g. prisoners, those who have been told not to use the net by a court) can then claim a breach of their human rights. Secondly, where does it then stop? As a previous contributer has said, does having a washing machines, cars etc then become a human right.
    I imagine there are things much more important to life than being able to log on - water, food, shelter, sanitation. Ask people who don't have those things whether they would prefer a regular supply of clean drinking water and food to eat, or super fast internet access and I bet the answer is not the latter!
    Ridiculous idea.

  • Comment number 26.

    Is it a basic human right? Of course it isn't. Is it highly desirable? Sure. On an online forum it would be thoroughly hypocritical to say otherwise. Those human rights listed in the UN Charter are priceless, but the problem with discussing human rights issues these days is that they get trivialised by tabloid examples of poorly applied (or poorly drafted) human rights legislation, with the popular line touted about "human rights gone too far" or being attacked for being PC. While there is often an element of truth in such comments, there is no doubt that those who make would never want to give any of those rights up. On that basis we need to recognise the distinction between things which should be our right and those things which are just the icing on the cake. Because internet access isn't a right even in ths country.

  • Comment number 27.

    Is this another gimmick like the one tried a few years ago when free keyboards etc were sent out so that the internet could be accessed through the television.It worked fine except it cost 5p per minute to use it.Yes access was free but not the usage.

  • Comment number 28.

    What complete drivel. If internet access is a basic human right, then I have a legitimate grievance because I didn’t get internet access until 1998. I think people are confusing ‘internet access’ with freedom of speech. There are other ways to communicate and find information.

  • Comment number 29.

    If access to the internet is a fundamental right, does that mean access to a computer is a fundamental right - logic would dictate so.

    Personally I don't think it can be. I would be more concerned with this devaluing real human rights. Think on PC brigade, think on!

  • Comment number 30.

    Why did the BBC World service conduct a poll on this topic in the first place ? And how it it do ? Via the internet ?

    You might as well go in to a pub and ask : Is having a pint of lager a Human Right ? I bet all the drinkers in the pub would say it was.

  • Comment number 31.

    There are certain domestic appliances that Ballifs are not allowed to remove when enforcing a debt. These include the fridge and a TV. Obviously internet access is not a human right in the sense that food water and freedom from torture are but life is getting increasingly difficult if you don't have net access. Its worth pointing out too that countries that heavily censure net access (China, Burma etc) have a very poor record regarding the more essential human rights too. I'd argue that denying someone internet access is pretty much the same as denying them free speech or access to a library.

    #4 You have to pay for your food and water too. Human right doesn't equal free.

  • Comment number 32.

    Going by some of the Have Your Say participants on other threads, I think using the internet to have a go at anything you fear, don't like, or involves the licence fee is a human right...

  • Comment number 33.

    It's hardly up there with uncontaminated drinking water is it? Even though clean drinking water is a 'basic human right', many millions do not have access to it, so it's just words, really.

  • Comment number 34.

    How about the fundimental human right of being ablw to hve a nice cigarette with my pint as I sit in the corner of my dusty local wondering on how things have gotten so STUPID?

  • Comment number 35.

    Quite right. If the starving people in Africa had high-speed access to the internet, they could just shop on-line and have Ocado deliver their groceries. And they could watch 'Charlie bit my finger' on You Tube whilst they were waiting.

  • Comment number 36.

    It seems the concept of "fundamental human rights" is getting further and further out of hand.

    How about; a right to live your own life as well as you can, free of the interference of others unless it does harm to others?

    Beyond food and shelter (the necessities for living); most other things could be considered a luxury, at least compared to the lives of the poorest in the world.

    The idiocy of ranking things we consider desirable, alongside things we need to survive, reflects the drift into "I want, so I deserve" culture.

  • Comment number 37.

    The core human rights, as our American cousins declared, are "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

    Just what you require to accomplish that happy state changes dependent on circumstances. In this day and age, the Internet does play a part... but the 'right' to it depends on each individual wannabe user getting up and making a connection. It means that nobody ought to be denied access - but those who cannot afford their own might need to go to a library or internet cafe when they want to get online.

    It is my right to work, but I have to apply for jobs (or start a business) if I want to do so.

  • Comment number 38.

    Thanks for all the comments. There seems to be a lot of disdain for the results of the survey.
    A lot of people (post 15, for example) are saying that it's more of a privilege than a right.
    But to turn the question on its head, could you cope without the internet and is it just a tool for convenience?
    Also, is the internet just about email, keeping up to date and watching clips on YouTube, for example?

    Part of this survey also looks at how the internet is used for news purposes.
    Ivan Sigal from Global Voices, who're working with the BBC on the project, has blogged about the role of news and access to the web.

  • Comment number 39.

    No its not a human right, and even if it was, there are other things that are or should be human rights, such as clean water, a right to live without fear of physical or mental abuse, a right to live in a domicile that is fit for living, a right to be treated fairly and equally...the list goes on and on and on and all come before the right to internet access, which would beg the question, if I have a human right to internet access, does this mean if I cannot afford the electricity to run the connection or PC that the energy supplier is infringing my rights by refusing to supply power to my domicile even though I owe them money I cannot pay...ridiculous...

  • Comment number 40.

    As others have said, I disagree that 'Internet Access' is a human right. However, I would consider that once you do have access, then your usage should be unimpeded, unfiltered and unmonitored. It is this freedom to information that could be considered a human right, not the initial access to the internet.

  • Comment number 41.

    Judging by what I've noticed in news footage I've seen of families with children living in "child poverty", I guess the following are also a "Human Right":

    Playstation 3 and/or XBox 360
    Lots of games for the above
    Plasma TV
    Satellite Television
    New kitchen
    New 3-piece suite
    Pets, particularly large dogs
    Take away food

  • Comment number 42.

    what a absolutely bizarre question? ownership of a computer isn't a human right? having access to electricity isn't a right? so how can access to the internet be a right? these are privileges?

    What we need is for someone to look at the human rights charter and state which things are nice to haves and which are necessities and protect the necessities and stop making wastefully expensive legislation to "protect" the nice to haves, when for the majority of people they are irrelevant.

    It should be a human right to shelter
    it should be a human right to health care
    it should be a human right to food and water
    it should be a human right NOT to be tortured, kidnapped or killed without cause
    it should be a human right to free speech
    it should be a human right to work
    it should be a human right to live without fear
    it should be a human right to a fair trial
    it should be a human right to heat and light
    it should be a human right to marry for love
    it should be a human right to die with dignity
    it should be a human right to be free of pain
    it should be a human right to be free of persecution

    I know some people argue that it should also be a human right to information, to access to the media, to the truth. And to a certain extent I agree, if these things are denied you are heading into totalitarian and police states. But the internet is only ONE form of communication. We managed to get information before the computer was invented, before TV was invented, before radio was invented. So what makes people believe that these things are necessities that should be protected as RIGHTS?!

    At the present time I need my computer for work, but socially it isn't a necessity, therefore were I to change my profession I am certain I could live without a computer, therefore why should I need it to be an automatic right? access to a telephone line isn't currently a "human right".

    what next making it a human right to have money? have a job? where will that lead - to millions of unemployed desperate people taking their governments to court for breaching their human rights. Some things need to be down to the individual to secure for themselves, not legislated for the government to provide.

    We just don't seem to prioritise human rights correctly any more.

  • Comment number 43.

    Oh come on. There are many more basics to consider before the Internet is put in the charter of human rights. Imagine Internet Lawyers making a fortune.

  • Comment number 44.

    I see no evidence, from blogs and forums like HYS, that Internet access has made people better informed. The lasting impression one has is of ignorant bigots venting their spleen against whichever group they happen to hate; other races, other religions, people with more money, people with less money... Fortunately, those who really need knowledge also realise that the Web is the least reliable source of it. No, Internet access is not a fundamental right, and probably never will be. Lots of other things are more important and lacking in many societies: food, water, work, civil rights, self-determination, education, access to cheap books, ... It's amazing really how unimportant the Internet really is. When it comes down to it, it's essentially a plaything of Western society.

  • Comment number 45.

    Giving people access to the internet is no bad thing, but so long as they don't take this as a right to do as they please.

    Having a right to internet access does not mean you also have a right to perform illegal acts. I can see this being taken as a green light for people to continue downloading copyright content without fear of being cut off.

  • Comment number 46.

    Absolute tosh. This 'human right' nonsense is now showing itself for what it really is.
    To have access to the Internet is a luxury, a priviledge and a boon but to elevate it to the status of being a human right is nonsense.
    I am confident that given time even the poorest nations will be able to offer their people access to what we take for granted without having to resort to legislation.

  • Comment number 47.

    NO NO and NO again,

    Human rights are basic rights that every human should have to allow them to live, and live without fear from the state.

    The internet is a useful work and leasure tool, it is not essential or indispensable!

    I am fed up with seeing the shoddy wording of the human rights bill being manipulated and twisted to protect the people it DEFFINATELY was not written to protect, speeding tickets, criminals with tv's etc...

  • Comment number 48.

    Odd defenition of "basic" by objective standards.

  • Comment number 49.

    This is ridiculous. Did the survey ask the type of people who don't work but believe holidays and large TVs are a 'right' too?

  • Comment number 50.

    4. At 11:04am on 08 Mar 2010, frankiecrisp wrote:

    If it is how come I have to pay for it.

    You pay for everything.

    I think it has become the very basic need for human right in any developing countries than already developed ones. Countries like Iran and China where the state controls every media, internet is the only one which is not controlled or at-least people can go around any firewalls and blocks to access what they want.

    Being informed is the basic human right in any democratic country and I totally believe that it is the fundamental option for human right.

  • Comment number 51.

    4 out of 5 people obviously do not think! The use of the internet is a luxury! It is something way down the pecking order of “essential human rights” after clean safe water, clean safe food, shelter, protection from persecution, the genuine list goes on!

    Shock!! Horror!! Watching Youtube is not essential!

    Strong support for access to the internet is fair enough, subject of course to where available. Access that is not monitored by the secret services, but there is no such country, would be nice!

  • Comment number 52.

    Access to internet is no more a human right than access to a telephone. Anyone who wants access to internet can do so quite easily by opening a free email account, but, of course you will need access to a computer.

    Perhaps this is what this nonsense is all about, people somewhere want some benefactor to provide them with free computers!

    Surely a basic human right should be access to food, drink, shelter and clothing? Internet and telephone, like cars and television, are non essentials and therefore not basic human rights.

  • Comment number 53.

    Its not a human right, no more than watching the TV or reading a newspaper. Free speech is a human right, and there are more ways to express it than the internet.

  • Comment number 54.

    Well - looking at post 38 commenting on the lot of disdain. Who are these four out of five people. Obviously not anyone who uses the internet to comment on have your say.

    On another tack. If it's a basic human right. How far does that go. There are four of us in my household, between us we have three computers so that mean that because we can't ALL be online at the same time that one of us is having their human rights abused. I don't think so. I think the biggest single threat to human rights is the human rights act.

  • Comment number 55.

    It's like a car, it's not a human right, but it's very useful and gives you access to things you wouldn't otherwise have (e.g. far away shops). Society coped for millenia without it, and it's not cured disease or prevented wars. It has provided more people with more information - but so has the television and radio.

    However, all that said, I'd like it to be included in the list of human rights for two reasons:

    1. It would have to be free.
    2. They wouldn't be able to cut you off if your neighbour was sharing illegal music over your wireless network.

  • Comment number 56.

    It's not exactly up there with the right to freedom from torture, freedom of speech etc, is it.

    It's convenient, and no doubt can be massively helpful especially for developing countries building up their economies and infrastructure.

    But placing a useful way of downloading music alongside the right to, say, freedom of speech and freedom from torture is downgrading the meaning of real human rights.

    This sounds to me like one of those surveys masquerading as news, with a view to a sell.

  • Comment number 57.

    Of course not. What a ridiculous notion.

  • Comment number 58.

    "How can something thats man made be a human right? Universal rights are Food for all Shelter, Education, and Heatlh care for all????? but this can only happen by the redistribution of wealth and power = Shareing but this wont' be because of greed and power of the few mega rich, who control this world will not let it.

  • Comment number 59.

    the internet for me is a basic human right, it collects the knowledge from around the world and put it under my fingers,i will lose much without it.

  • Comment number 60.

    With certainty - refusing prisoners access to the internet is going to foil their chances upon release in getting a job.

    Allowing them access leaves plenty of opportunity to taunt victims.

    I dont see why they cant monitor their access - in the same way telephone calls can be monitored.

    Otherwise we are just looking at the best part of 100,000 people most of whom will be released over the next 2 years, who only have 1 skill...


  • Comment number 61.

    Do not confuse the right to use the internet with the right to have it. Access to the internet is a privelege however having gained access then the ability to use it free from government intervention is your basic human right. We have to stop adding material things to the list of "basic human rights" that's how we got into the mess we are in today!!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Although I am a huge fan of the internet, I have to say that I disagree with those people who think it's a human right.

    I think the net is a priviledge, and should remain so. It's important that we should not rely on the net as a necessity; to do so would be folly, and a step backwards in human development.

    The reason I say this is because there are people in this country who we class as leaders, that have the ability to switch off the entire internet at the push of a button. If the internet is classed as a human right (and therefore an essential necessity), this means that our fate is controlled by a group of people who, as has been proven recently, appear to actually care nothing for us unless there's an election due.

    Therefore, I think it's important to regard the ineternet as a priviledge, not a right.

    Also, I think it's important that the net remains 100% uncensored. This is because it should remain a complete record of ALL human behaviours and ideas, even those we detest. We are all human, like it or not.

  • Comment number 63.

    Of course its not, how ridiculous to even make the suggestion. These 'rights' we have are getting beyond the joke, apparently it is a 'right' to have children, no, its a privilege, while having internet access can hardly be described as a privilege it most certainly isn't a right. It seems way too many people like to assert thier 'rights' without any consideration of others, I suspect these are the people making up this nonsense.

  • Comment number 64.

    I would say no. The internet is a service like a telephone or Sky TV. It is not on the same level a fresh drinking water, food, shelter etc.

  • Comment number 65.

    Some people have got the wrong end of the stick. A Human Right doesn't mean it is free. No one is applying that internet should be free, all it means that internet should be there for all of us to use.
    A Human Right is clean water but we still have to pay for it. If we don't pay for clean water,we don't get it, just like internet

  • Comment number 66.

    OH for gods sake - the internet is not a human right - no one will die if you cant surf youtube, bbc, google or any number of sites which the net offers.

    a human right is - the right to liberty, right to life, the right to freedom of expression and speech, all the basics of what John Locke suggested in the 18th century.

    the time has come to rip up this human rights act and re-write it so it is sensible and not contain nonsense such as the the internet is a right.

  • Comment number 67.

    Is access to the internet a fundamental human right?


    Is owning a TV a fundamental right?
    Is owning a Radio a fundamental right?

    There are many people who can not afford to have a PC, never mind having to pay for access to the Internet.

    This "Human Rights" muppett show is getting out of control now. It is simply just silly and needs to be looked at by people with "common sense".

  • Comment number 68.

    I have been in the IT industry, since before the Internet was conceived, Please forgive me, but those that can think it through will understand that the Internet will be one of the factors that will bring about the demise of the human race. (Hint, all our knowledge will be out there, not in our brains)

    So is it a Human Right to have access, No.

  • Comment number 69.

    I know I'm not supposed to do this any more...

    But: Comment 8


  • Comment number 70.

    Surely this business of human 'rights' has got a bit stupid. There is a difference between things that people should be allowed to do if they can and rights as such.

  • Comment number 71.

    Is access to the internet A "fundamental" human right? NO.

    I hope the person asking this question is not being paid.

  • Comment number 72.

    OK, OK! It's a basic fundamental human right. Pass a law that says so, if you like. Enshrine it in a constitution. What difference will it make? If you can't afford it, you can't have it. If the infrastructure doesn't exist - you still can't have it, 'right' or no right.

  • Comment number 73.

    I think peoples perception of what the question was asking could heavily influence the answer given.

    Consider a similar question about newspapers...

    Is it a fundamental human right to be able to read a newspaper?

    Is it a fundamental human right that the Government should provide each house with a newspaper of their choice?

    The former question would get a great deal of support, the latter question, very little.

    Within the series of questions asked about the internet, where the respondent was asked to agree or disagree was...

    To what extent do you agree or disagree that...

    b) The internet gives me greater freedom.
    c) The internet is a safe place to express my opinions
    g) The internet should never be regulated by any level of government anywhere
    h) Access to the internet should be a fundamental right of all people

    With so many questions in the series appearing to relate to freedom, censorship and Government control, I think many would answer the question about access being a fundamental right, in the context of a Government not restricting access, rather than a right to have it provided.

  • Comment number 74.

    "But to turn the question on its head, could you cope without the internet and is it just a tool for convenience?"

    Much of how I manage matters is on-line.. banks, tax return, booking tickets, Christmas shopping. In my case it is purely conveneince and life would carry on just fine if I had to go back to paper statements, posting letters and going to shops to make a purchase. Similarly, I use my car a lot but if it was taken away tomorrow I'd find other ways of getting around.

    Therefore the internet is more a Human Nice To Have... not a right.

  • Comment number 75.

    What on earth sort of question is that, it is a saleable item, you pay for it, or should do if you want it. Mobile phones? I phones? Big mac's, NO it is not a basis Humasn right, get real people!.

  • Comment number 76.

    There are a lot of people mocking the idea that internet access could be a human right but I'd point out that without it we'd never have heard about opposition movements in dictatorial countries, nor of the horrendous abuses of human rights by their government. They wouldn't be able to protest as easily without having the internet as a means of mass communication.

    The Internet is not just somewhere to do some shopping and look at porn, it is a technology that gives a voice to oppressed people, a tool for education, a means to learn about things that others may want hidden.

    It doesn't surprise me that so many in the UK mock this idea. We live in a country where few people take voting seriously, where the masses consider how a politician looks to be more important than what they will do. We live in a safe and comfortable country (though few would admit it) and think that the freedom to moan and protest we enjoy is universal.

  • Comment number 77.

    I think that it should be a human right not to be continually bombarded with stupid notions that access to a commodity ought in any way to be linked to a "right".

  • Comment number 78.

    "Could I live without access to the internet?" Hmm... I wasn't aware that my internet access was linked to my essential organs!! I lived perfectly well before the internet was around, and can say without doubt that I can "live" without it. However, I cannot live without food and water. Whoever wrote this report needs to check their priorities.

  • Comment number 79.

    Basic human rights are things we should be willing to afford everyone, even convicted criminals - a roof over your head, clothing, food, water, sanitation, free speech, fair trial, and so forth.

    So internet access is not a right, as such, but in the modern world many people DO rely on internet access for their jobs, and by extension to help pay for food and water, which we should observe ARE basic human rights. So, a certain level of legal protection should be there. The same should apply to telephone lines (not sure it's still possible to get a job without a phone these days). Perhaps the same should also be true for transport.

    TLDR : It's not really a right. But you still need it to be competative these days anyway.

  • Comment number 80.

    So if I become unemployed again in the future I can ask the Jobcentre to fund my internet access, mobile phone, large screen tv and games console. This is political correctness gone mad!

  • Comment number 81.

    No, the internet is not a human right, it is a public service that needs to be paid for, simple as that

  • Comment number 82.

    No, I don't think that it is a human right, let alone a fundamental one; however, internet access is one of the Good Things that has been made possible by our civilisation, and I think that it's ethically right, though not ethically obligatory, to make it available to as many people as possible.

  • Comment number 83.

    "Is the internet a basic human right?"

    No, but if you're willing to pay for it you can have what you like.

  • Comment number 84.

    So the vague concept of "the Internet" should be a member of that even more vague group of "human rights"?

    My issue with these Fundamental Human rights is that they're all about human decency - written in a world where decency is easily achieved - but only really applicable in a world where it isn't. So they are pretty self-invalidating.

    I can't believe that if we find ourselves in a situation where the country can't even feed itself we'd be concentrating on maintaining residential Internet access.

  • Comment number 85.

    Amazing how trivial the list of human rights has become!
    Can I suggest another, namely the right to live ones life without interference from a busybody government which believes it knows what I need than I do myself.

  • Comment number 86.

    Absolutely pathetic statement. Human rights laws are quickly being used by people to get what they want rather than what they need.

    “Could you live without being able to access the web?”

    Of course I can, I didn’t have the internet till the end of the 90s and as far as I know I was able to some how “cope” for many years before that.

    I’m sorry but most of the people who said that the internet is a fundamental human right probably just look at pornography and are obsessed with facebook some of us can exist away from cyberspace, in the real world.

    For God’s sake people get a grip

  • Comment number 87.

    Of course it is a basic human right. I haven't seen a single argument on here to suggest otherwise.

  • Comment number 88.

    Internet access is not a 'human right', but it is a tool that can empower an individual or society. There are human rights issues such as freedom of speech that can be associated with the internet. Does this mean that we can take our ISP's to Strasbourg if they continue to fail to provide a useable service? If so, I'm all in favour!

  • Comment number 89.

    Food, health, internet access, shelter, life, liberty.

    Spot the odd one out.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think its a basic human right not have to listen to Brown, Clegg and Dave everytime you turn on the tv or radio for the next two months.

  • Comment number 91.

    It's only a matter of time before all criminal's in jail have access to it seeing as it's a human right !!!!!

  • Comment number 92.

    I think maybe the internet has become - or at least will become a necessity for functioning in most societies. Not sure if it can be classified as a Human Right as such, but I think it will become apparent that without access to the internet sections of society may become very seriously disadvantaged and/or excluded from normal social interactions/business. I had to raise my eye-brow the other day when a Pensions Minister mentioned the fact that some important advice was on their website! I cannot imaging my elderly pensioner relatives being able to use a computer, let alone access the internet to receive this 'important' information!

  • Comment number 93.

    Sorry, are all the real journalists having a day off today?

    What a ridiculous notion, where was this survey conducted, outside a primary school? Did you ask any other questions - maybe the Beano is a basic human right?

    If this is what the BBC licence fee is going to - lord help us all!

    How about some real news and debate please.

  • Comment number 94.

    There are no such things as "basic human rights."

    There are only such rights as you are allocated in your local legal system, and these vary all over the world.

  • Comment number 95.

    I consider the internet a basic human right. Its taught me:

    a) the extent of bigotry and hatred in the UK against any minority, particularly the poor.
    b) the fact that the bigots and hate-merchants haven't mastered basic written english.

  • Comment number 96.

    Sloppy journalism.
    The question was "Nearly four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.".
    Exactly where does the 'HUMAN rights' bit come into it? If the world service actually asked that, the figures would be substantially different.

  • Comment number 97.

    I could see myself answering yes or no to this question, depending on how it was phrased.
    I can also see that someone from another country might interpret the question very differently.
    As it's put at the top of the thread, I'd have to reply no. To me, the question implies that everyone has the right to internet access in their home, state-provided.
    Next to things like food, water, shelter, free education etc internet access is a triviality, and certainly not a fundamental right.
    But phrasing the question more negatively, so that it implies the capacity for a government to deny internet access in any form, would lead to a different answer. That would be state manipulation of media and access to information - a hallmark of fascist governments.
    I would imagine that if I came from a country that doesn't allow a free press, for example, this is how I might have interpreted the question. Even as it's phrased at the top.

  • Comment number 98.

    While I am all in favour of the Internet to compare it with roads, waste disposal and water is a nonsense - why not add food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education.

    A better comparison would be the telephone or TV - it is a lifestyle choice not a right.

    In any event there is no such thing as a 'basic of fundamental human right' - every government treats its subjects differently in respect of what they give for what they demand in return and mother nature doesn't give a toss for the individual's so called 'human rights'.

  • Comment number 99.

    What a rediculous question and a rediculous survey.

    'Human rights' are ideals or principals - free speech, freedom from persecution - etc. not consumer services, if internet access is a human right, so is the telephone, the car, electric lighting; all of which would suggest that nobody in the pre-Victorian age had any 'human rights'.

  • Comment number 100.

    I wouldn't go as far as to say it is a basic human right but what the internet does do is provide a means of enshrining those basic rights.

    It can allow poorer parts of the world to educate their citizens more effectively, to allow businesses to sell goods and services more readily, to hold governments to account that would have previously gotten away with terrible deeds.

    Whilst the internet is not a basic human right, it is relatively cheap for the benefits that came from having access.

    The key challenges now are improving access to the poorest billion in the world and protecting the neutrality of its infrastructure.


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