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Broadband internet access becomes a legal right in Finland, Universal access in Ecuador

Author's name: 
KAH
Montevideo

Very good news that according to CNN, Finland has become the first country in the world to declare broadband Internet access a legal right.

I was intrigued to see that the URL of the CNN article refers to “internet rights”. A term APC started using back in 2000, but you don’t see many other people using much.

If you search on “internet rights” in Google you get just 65,400 results, and APC heads the list with the Internet Rights Charter.

In November last year, Ecuador became the first country to declare universal access to ICTs a constitutional right.

If you want to know more about Ecuador, this is from the APC Progress Report 2004-8:

“The new Ecuadorian Constitution signed into law on 28 September 2008 states that all people are entitled to ‘universal access to information and communication technologies’ and protects ‘the creation of social media, equal access to radio spectrum for managing public, private and community radio and television stations, and free bands for the operation of wireless networks’ (for internet access).

“Civil society groups in Ecuador working in the communication sectors felt the constitutional reform was a unique opportunity to propose a new communication rights framework that included access to the internet for all citizens. The Ecuadorian struggle for these rights is complex – those who control the traditional media vehemently opposed the changes, and internet access, mobile phones and other ICT services have typically been delivered within a regulatory context favouring the interests of a small number of wealthy business owners and multinationals. We communication rights advocates tried to spread a message adapted from the World Social Forum that ‘Another communication is possible’. As an APC representative, to me, when applied to the internet that meant that the internet should be seen as a global public good: open, affordable and accessible to all.

“We formulated proposals for the Constituent Assembly in charge of drafting the new constitution. We stimulated public debate, convened multi-stakeholder forums and researched key communication trends in Latin America and the world. APC was directly in charge of preparing proposals, developing the rationale and lobbying members of the Assembly. We were overjoyed when two key communications rights became established in the new constitution. The challenge today centres around the mechanisms needed to enforce the rights in a way that is coherent with national development policies.” – Valeria Betancourt, APC’s Latin American policy coordinator, Ecuador

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