From the Atlantic Wire:
The United Nations counts internet access as a basic human right in a report that bears implications both to on-going events in the Arab Spring and to the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers. Acting as special rapporteur, a human rights watchdog role appointed by the UN Secretary General, Frank La Rue takes a hard line on the importance of the internet as "an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress."
Great. Now when public librarians kick people off the computer, they’ll be calling it a violation of their human rights. Soon public librarians will be occupied by a blue helmeted multi-national force in order to ensure people’s human rights aren’t being violated. Ok, maybe not. But it also hits on the digital divide.
La Rue acknowledges the logistical barriers that some nations face when it comes to delivering internet service. Without the proper infrastructure, some nations simply can’t engage the internet as the "revolutionary" and "interactive medium" it’s proven itself to be. However, all nations should make plans to offer universal access and also maintain policy that won’t limit access for political purposes.
And there we have it: a written declaration of the right to digital information access. I fully acknowledge that there is a vast gulp between the words and their realization; it’s not even a matter of governmental interference (that’s a concern in and of itself) but lack of national infrastructure in some of the poorest countries in the world.
It’s a step in the right direction, for certain. Is it something libraries could capitalize on? I think so in nations that still lack for them; it is a pairing of print and computing that mimics what currently passes for a modern library. In more modern countries, my hunch is to think it might turn into computer centers rather than libraries.
Internet access as a human right: what do you think?