Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The History of Internet Access Rights

Jonathon Penney, Oxford University (Balliol College); Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law; The Citizen Lab/Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, has published Internet Access Rights: A Brief History and Intellectual Origins at 38 William Mitchell Law Review 10 (2011). Here is the abstract.

If there is anything we have learned from recent protest movements around the world, and the heavy-handed government efforts to block, censor, suspend, and manipulate Internet connectivity, it is that access to the Internet, and its content, is anything but certain, especially when governments feel threatened. Despite these hard truths, the notion that people have a "right" to Internet access gained high-profile international recognition last year. In a report to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this year, Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, held that Internet access should be recognized as a "human right". The finding garnered much international attention and acclaim, but there has been little systematic scholarship exploring the report’s findings and right to Internet access set out therein. Helping fill this gap, this article explores the historical and intellectual origins of the notion of Internet access rights in the report and sets these ideas within a broader international and political context, and its of evolving ideas about expression, information, and communication, and their politics.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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