Connecting your rights: Internet access and economic, social and cultural rights

By Leila Nachawati Rego
Publisher: APCNews     22 October 2015

Source: Flickr Commons, ArranoSource: Flickr Commons, Arrano

Internet rights are economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs). APC is convinced of this, and this is why since March 2014 we have undertaken a line of research focusing on how these connections work: Connecting your rights. Internet rights are economic, social and cultural rights

We hear a lot about “internet freedom” but beyond that issue, how can internet rights help advance ESCRs? APC is working with human rights defenders, civil society organisations, “internet freedom” advocates, and others involved in ESCRs and development, to explore this.

You can start diving into this topic by going through the resources on our Wiki. You can continue by reading our new paper on the connection between internet access and ESCRs. Here is a summary of the research background:

Internet access and economic, social and cultural rights, by Juan Carlos Lara (Derechos Digitales)

Economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) are considered by many as “aspirational rights”. This means that they are often influenced by ideological stances of governments instead of viewed as moral imperatives. Because of the lack of clarity or consensus about pathways to their realisation, their status as rights can be downplayed, which can lead to inaction by rights holders and duty bearers.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) and particularly the internet have partially shifted human rights concerns to their threats and exercise online. Violations of freedom of expression and privacy have dominated the conversation.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), started in 2003, was one of the first stages were it was recognised at the multilateral level that ICTs may facilitate enjoyment of a broad number of human rights. It was emphasised that all people needed to be included into the digital age to take advantage of all the new possibilities.

The key to that potential is provided by access to the internet. Those with internet access are more likely to enjoy potential realisation of rights, while those without access lack such potential. Additionally, the control of technologies is not necessarily in the hands of traditional duty bearers in human rights law.

In such a scenario, what is the relationship between access to the internet and the frameworks to allow internet access as a right?

Would you like to know more? Access the paper here, stay tuned to our project page.

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