Internet access and its impact on human rights

Strasbourg, 11.03.2013 - In a hearing organised by the PACE Culture Committee in Paris on the right to Internet access, participants agreed today that accessing Internet has a significant impact on human rights. According to the PACE rapporteur on the subject, Jaana Pelkonen (EPP/CD), the prevailing opinion is that access to Internet is particularly central for freedom of expression and should be provided for as a civic and political right.

However, access to Internet and use of political freedoms online should be separated from the question how this access is guaranteed. Although freedom of expression is the human right most often connected with access to Internet, other human rights might become relevant depending on the context and interpretative issues. In a different context, access to Internet could be evaluated through other rights as well, for example the right to education or as a part of a fair trial.

Participants also agreed that although States have the primary obligation to provide a regulatory framework for Internet, other stakeholders have an important role in future policy-making and governance of Internet. Co-operation and dialogue between different stakeholders enables openness, transparency and accountability of adopted policies and thus takes into account the responsibilities and roles of different stakeholders, participants concluded.

The report on the right to Internet access is due to be debated by PACE before the end of the year.