Is Internet connectivity a human right?

In his article Is Connectivity a Human Right?, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, points out the significance of the global knowledge economy and how the access to the Internet can contribute and enhance the global collaboration and productivity. In order to achieve this, he promotes Internet connectivity as a human right. Even though the vast majority of the world population lacks the Internet connection, it may not be right to term it as a human right. Instead, I prefer to see it as a medium for each country to empower its citizens and utilize the Internet’s possibilities to achieve economic prosperity. The infrastructure gets expanded progressively by the market-savvy and profit-seeking Internet applications and telecommunications companies. It is up to the political leaders of each country to take the bold policy initiatives to ensure seamless and unfiltered internet connectivity to shape its economic future.

Following are the three major challenges in providing the internet connectivity to all. First, building a cost effective infrastructure is the biggest one. Wireless technologies seem to be promising in covering the remote areas of the world effectively. In addition to the efforts by Facebook as listed in this article, Google has recently initiated an effort to build and run wireless networks to help connect a billion or more people to the internet. Second, each customer segment should be studied thoroughly and offered the internet applications that will directly help them to improve their daily lives. For farmers, weather related information and pricing updates for their goods are of more importance than access to a social media site. Third, obtaining the political will of a country’s leaders is a significant challenge especially considering the corruption in government establishments in the developing and third-world countries. They may be afraid that empowering the common people would affect their existence.

Internet has proven itself as a great medium to invoke entrepreneurship spirit and to enable the timely communication of key information. As the acceptance and utilization of Internet’s infinite possibilities increase, it in turn accelerates the economic growth of a country. The Internet connectivity need not be considered a human right, but its enormous benefits, if properly leveraged, can enhance the lives of people. If the political leadership of each country can realize this aspect and formulates a vision for the cost effective internet connectivity, the world will definitely be a better place.

References

Fidelman, M. Why Mobile is Critical to Developing Nations. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from http://www.forbes.com.

Worstall, T. Google’s excellent plan to bring wireless internet to developing countries. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from http://www.forbes.com..

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