Technological Evolution and the Right to Communicate

By William McIver, William Birdsall - 2008

This paper examines the co-evolution of information and communications technologies and communication rights. The emphasis is on the right to communicate. The paper provides a historical analysis through several generations of human rights developments of the inter-relationships between technical advances that enabled new communication modalities and the subsequent social and organizational interests that evolved. These communication modalities include bi-directional, interpersonal communications supported by telegraphy and telephony; unidirectional, mass communications made possible the broadcast technologies of television and radio; and bi-directional, many-to-many communications supported by the broadband technologies of satellite, the Internet, and the World-Wide Web. Three generations of human rights have been recognized in this context: civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; and the emerging area of collective rights. PDF.

By William McIver, William Birdsall| 2008


Communication rights enable all people everywhere to express themselves individually and collectively by all means of communication. They are vital to full participation in society and are, therefore, universal human rights belonging to every man, woman, and child.


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