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http://ssrn.com/abstract=2029087
 
 

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Internet Access Rights: A Brief History and Intellectual Origins


Jonathon Penney


Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society; Citizen Lab, University of Toronto; University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute; Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law

September 1, 2011

William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, p. 10, 2011 (invited contribution to special 'cyberlaw' edition)

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 in early 2011, 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 idea of a right to Internet access as set out in the report, while also illustrating its political and legal foundations in international legal documents, humanitarian law, and a broader evolving international political context surrounding communications and the global free flow of information.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 33

Keywords: Internet, Internet access, legal history, human rights, United Nations, freedom of expression, international law, special rapporteur, freedom of information, telecommunications history

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K33, L96

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Date posted: March 26, 2012 ; Last revised: June 5, 2014

Suggested Citation

Penney, Jonathon, Internet Access Rights: A Brief History and Intellectual Origins (September 1, 2011). William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, p. 10, 2011 (invited contribution to special 'cyberlaw' edition). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2029087

Contact Information

Jonathon Penney (Contact Author)
Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society ( email )
Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA Nova Scotia 02138
Canada
Citizen Lab, University of Toronto ( email )
Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3K7
Canada
University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )
1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom
Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )
6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Canada
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