As the internet continues to grow, so does the people’s access to it. At this point, the internet is a secondary world – an infinite floating plaza of endless searches and possibilities. However, as people continue to get glued on it, some big companies and even the government limit our entry into the world wide web and beyond.
Is there a right to internet access? Should the government and major businesses control what we can see, say, upload and download? That’s what we are here to find out.
The Right to Internet Access
Today, internet access is synonymous to free speech. Whilst we can say what we want and what everyone needs to hear, the same goes to the internet – particularly in social media. This right would not have been possible if the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) didn’t exist back in 2003.
Basically, what they stated was,
“We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva from 10–12 December 2003 for the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
If it wasn’t for the summit, we wouldn’t be able to do what we can currently do on the internet. Most of our actions would have been censored or, in worse cases, considered as a criminal offense in the eyes of governments around the world.
While there are pockets of nations prohibiting access, most of us that live in the free world are fortunate to have internet access.
The Internet is a Competitive Informant
Before the internet became mainstream, information was only given in a number of “trusted” ways – newspapers, magazines, journals, and television. Whatever the major media said, we’re always told they’re speaking the truth.
That was until the internet was given to the people. Leaks began circling around, brand new info sources became the people’s reliable news, and no more do people feel controlled. In fact, you can say the internet is a double-edged sword of information. On one end, you have the misleading fake news that makes us question about the trust towards the media while the other end speaks to us about the never-before-seen information with proven facts that the media never spoke of.
The internet exposes all sorts of truths – the real truths, the “half” truths, and the made-up truths. It all depends on which source you trust.
Besides news and stuff like that, even other categories such as Food and Cars give out free information for the people.
No longer do we have to buy the next monthly cooking magazine just to discover seafood recipes when you can just specifically Google search for what main ingredient you want to cook. Easy salmon recipes perhaps?
Why wait for the next episode of Top Gear on TV when all you have to do is search for car info on the internet?
Even other things like Love and Education bring out interesting facts and guides to benefit you; and they’re free for the taking. For example, why are Asian brides the best or how education improves foster caring.
In the end, the world wide web gave TV, newspapers and magazines a run for their money and trust ratings.
The Internet is Our Voice
With the popularity of social media and messaging programs, we can finally know what’s happening in different countries through their own voices. American citizens discover the multiple rape cases in India while Singaporeans find out about the human trafficking cases that are found from China to Europe. People can finally get to react and comment on what’s happening in the world.
But it’s not just the harsh reality that is revealed to the world via the internet; things like entertainment and Science are also shown too, giving people the chance to bring out their opinions about the topic at hand.
The Harmful Censorship and Control
Those with power take advantage of their money and what they can do to manipulate the system. For example, the EU’s recent declaration of Article 13 brought in a new strict copyright law that can produce a harmful effect on what people can upload including music, commentaries, and especially memes.
America’s Net Neutrality also ushered in a new fear for people and a new way for companies to capitalize on the American citizens’ money; not only do they need to pay for their ISPs, but they also need to spend hard-earned dollars just to have access on certain websites like social media, gaming and sports.
On the other hand, Asian countries suffer from government control over internet access. The best example is North Korea where people have no access at all. The People’s Republic of China censors most of the popular websites such as Facebook and YouTube and instead use their own alternatives for those.
Internet Access Should Not Be Taken Away Nor Excessively Capitalized
The internet is a safe haven for people today to share their expressions, information and whatever they want to contribute to society. It is a right. And just like any right, it should never be pulled away from us.