COVID-19 has shown that having internet access is a basic human right and should be regarded as such. With movement restricted in the outside world leading to everyone shifting to the internet for all their daily activities, it became imperative for internet access to be found in every home. That is the definition of a human right; that it should be available to every individual no matter what. However, it is largely a matter of privilege or convenience, as it is rarely available in remote areas, but can be easily found in urban and suburban areas. But that is changing now. For instance, Comcast’s Xfinity can be found in around 39 states in the US and aims to cover a lot more areas so everyone can easily access the internet. Their Xfinity internet plans include a basic deal that offers slow internet speed at an affordable rate, though it works well for light internet browsing. It also offers a much faster speed if you need to go for lag-free gaming or uninterrupted downloading. These deals are designed to meet the needs of different internet users.
When there is no internet access
More than half the population in the world still do not have access to a working internet connection and that is just unfortunate because they are missing out on the many opportunities that are being offered via the internet. Following are some of the services they could make use of if they also had the access to the internet as the rest of the world:
- Basic Necessities. When COVID struck the world in early 2020, and physical movement outside the homes was restricted, everything from education, food delivery, to consultations and banking moved online. The world saw a need for internet access to be able to function in their daily lives. But there were some, who were still deprived of or had limited internet access and were not privileged enough to fulfill their basic needs. Students had trouble attending classes online since most of them didn’t have internet in their homes. People couldn’t have food ordered online without any internet and they were forced to risk going outside. In a way, COVID has reminded us that the internet plays a big part in everyone’s lives.
- Access to information. Internet was initially invented as a means of sharing information. It is now found in millions of homes, and those homes are making use of such a service. But that is unfair to those who do not own the internet. How else will they have access to what is currently happening in the country, if their power or cable runs out? They also cannot make use of educational resources such as Udemy and Coursera, where you can learn any subject from art to animal science. All the human knowledge is basically available on the internet, and people who don’t own one are deprived of it.
- Economic empowerment. The Internet has created many economic opportunities for internet users online. A little bit of a 10% increase in anyone’s access to the internet can lead to around a 1.28 to 2.5% increase in the country’s GDP. Internet access can also add around a 1 to 1.4% increase in the employment growth rate in any nation. This says a lot about how having internet access could help the individual and the nation as a whole. Otherwise, zero internet access is just a setback for these nations.
- Disasters. Facebook, which is the current largest social networking site, created a disaster relief feature, through which internet users could pinpoint their position in the Safety Check feature, indicating that they were safe in a particular disaster. Through this information, Facebook was able to collect information about the amount of damage that was inflicted by any natural disaster. However, these are only the data about persons who have internet access and the ones who do not, they weren’t able to enter their own information in the record about having survived the disaster.
- Politics and dictatorship. Political changes in a country often happen without the citizens knowing about it, and they are being forced to follow the new policies, laws, and rules without having any say in the matter. This is an indirect violation of human rights. Having internet access will give these people an opportunity to share their oppression with the world so that governments are pressured to go easy on them. Hence, in a way, the internet could introduce democratizing methods in the country for systematically oppressed citizens.
In a way, no matter how we see it, the internet has become indispensable, since it largely improves the quality of life. It is a sole platform for communication, acquiring education, and having the right to express. Internet should be regarded as a human right since their lives mainly depend on it.
Name: Shumaila Ahmed
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