Internet a human right?


Last Saturday, Mark Zuckerberg plead that internet is a key enabler of human rights as he joined a group of speakers from global NGOs at the UN. He wants the world to understand that Internet access should be a basic human right and that Facebook’s role in this whole process is driven by his deep social belief that in this way, poverty will be eliminated. As he said: “Research shows that when you give people access to the internet, one in ten people is lifted from poverty”.

Even though it is hard to imagine this highly innovative world without Internet nowadays, still two third of the world still does not have any access to this amazing feature. is an initiative of Facebook brining technology leaders, nonprofits and local communities together to join the part of this planet that is not connected.

But how is planning to do this? Of course this process goes with baby steps, the application Free Basics by Facebook is a good start. This application provides free basic services in markets where Internet access is too pricy. This app allows people to browse selected health, employment and local information websites without data charges. As Free Basics is already available in parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia, it will continue to more countries around the World.

Of course is there also a lot of criticism involved with this project. Even though the initiative of Facebook is very noteworthy, it still does not contribute to the fact that most of the people in developing countries does not even have the equipment to go online as smartphones of computers are not part of the most necessary attributes to survive. Furthermore, the motivation of Facebook to start this project is not always clear, which leads to the following types of comments: e.g. “Hundreds of millions of emerging market users will think that Facebook and the Internet are one and the same”. According to Zuckerberg, the only thing they want is for as many people to join the internet so that everyone can be connected.

Besides the motives Facebook may have, if this project might help even the smallest amount of people to escape their current living conditions, why not be supportive?


2 responses to “Internet a human right?”

  1. 362278cl says :

    Firstly, nice blog Eva, interesting to read about it. In my opinion I think it is a good topic to think about. While internet may really reduce poverty there are a lot of issues to consider. In addition I think Zuckerberg has to be persistent to a lot of resistance from other parties. In May nearly 70 advocacy groups released a letter to Zuckerberg protesting about, arguing it violated net neutrality principles and stirred security concerns. Moreover, I think it will be hard to deal with a few standard aspects, for example aspects which involves cost. Like the cost of the devices, subscriptions and power. But also the limited availability of power, the lack of mobile networks, problems with content in all the different languages and last but not least, to cope with the large amounts of data. I also share the opinion that it would be more than great to know that no one should have to choose between first necessities of life and internet. Hence, I love the idea that a lot of partners are going to join forces to develop technology that will reduce cost for providing internet access among communities where it is not available yet. I also read that the partners will invest in tools and software to improve data compression and data networks and to make services more efficient. This will lead to connection of billions of people. Thereby, constant innovation will be necessary, so developers, mobile network providers and also device manufacturers have to work closely together to introduce fitting business models. I think this is a beautiful principle and a good initiative which I fully support, and I really hopes it works out so that in the future everybody has acces to the internet.

    • evavanbaarle says :

      Thanks for your comment, good to know that more people liked the topic! I agree with you that it’s a baby step in a very large project, as most of the people who will make use of this service, do not even own a device yet. I actually came across an article today that stated that Facebook is going to work together with a French satellite company to provide the people in sub-Saharan Africa with internet. The satellite will launch next year and will have a reach of 14 countries in West, East and Southern Africa, so they are really making progress!

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