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The United Nations has declared that governments that shut down internet access to their people are violating human rights and is against international law. The UN “considers cutting off users from Internet access, regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
As we have seen, access to the internet has been pivotal in the recent revolutions in the Middle East, where it has been used to mobilize activists and share what’s happening on the ground. In attempts to prevent momentum, oppressive governments have blocked partial and/or full access to the internet. The report states:
“In many instances, states restrict, control, manipulate and censor content disseminated via the Internet without any legal basis, or on the basis of broad and ambiguous laws, without justifying the purpose of such actions. … such actions are clearly incompatible with states’ obligations under international human rights law, and often create a broader ‘chilling effect’ on the right to freedom of opinion and expression,”
This is good news for activists around the world. We can only hope that there will be some level of enforcement to ensure that the internet remains an open platform for communication.
Check out the story on Mashable here.