Millennium Post

A fundamental requirement

The freedom to connect, more formally known as the right to Internet access or right to broadband is a widely agreed upon view that people must be allowed access to the internet by way of substantiating their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other fundamental human rights, and the state bears the responsibility of ensuring this—which primarily means providing for internet access in the first place and not unreasonably restricting anyone's access to the internet. Kerala High Court recently echoed this view expressing that access to the internet is a basic right after a Kozhikode college student filed a petition challenging her expulsion for not adhering to restrictions on the use of mobile phone. The court also held that right to have access to the internet is part of the fundamental right to education as well as the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution. It was on June 27, 2016, that the UN made a series of statements collectively describing that internet access as a basic human right. The basic elements of this include not intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online; that states should consider formulating and adopting national internet-related public policies that have the objective of universal access and enjoyment of human rights at their core through transparent and inclusive processes with all stakeholders; promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, on the internet and other information and communication technology; and how the internet can be an important tool for fostering citizen and civil society participation, for the realisation of development in every community and for exercising human rights. Given this, it is equated very easily that not merely technological advancement, but facilitating access to it is, and more significantly, denying access to it is tantamount to violation of an individual's most basic rights. Raising a question on the state of one's privacy, right to education, and simply the right to connect, access to the internet has assumed vast proportions and has added to the responsibilities of the state.

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