Bridge Over Troubled Water: An Emerging Right to Access to the Internet
International Review of Law: Vol. 2017 1, 7
22 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2017
Date Written: April 28, 2016
This article is about the internet and its place in the current international legal order. The more precise inquiry concerns identifying the probable emergence of a legal entitlement, as opposed to the predominant focus on legal limitations or consequences of abuse of the right, to access to the internet. It seeks to identify the sources and shape of any such entitlement, along with investigating pertinent trends in political, legal, and judicial decision-making. It proposes the contents and contours of a right to access to the internet, which this article advances and expresses in terms of four As (availability, accessibility, affordability, and adequacy). These four concepts are tested against the real-world backdrop of existing tensions between free and unimpeded access, on one side, and claims and demands for protection of copyrighted material, on the other. The ultimate analysis is framed in terms of the existence or emergence of a "positive" or a "negative" universal right to access to the internet. Whereas the former appears to be rather limited (though emerging) and dictated by a variety of factors, a negative obligation, one that entails the absence of interference with, or impediment of, an individual's existing or future access to the internet, has been established.
Keywords: human rights, human rights law, international law, information and communications technology, internet, right to information, freedom of expression, privacy, copyright
JEL Classification: K19, K33, K39, O19, O33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation