The Internet and the right to communicate

By William F. Birdsall, William J. McIver Jr., Merrilee Rasmussen - 2008

The development of the Internet challenges traditional conceptions of information rights. The discourse surrounding these rights and the Internet typically deals with each right in isolation and attempt to adapt long established understandings of each right to the new technological environment. We content there is a need to address information rights within a comprehensive human rights framework, specifically, a right to communicate. This paper examines the development of a right to communicate and how it can be defined and implemented.

The development of the Internet challenges traditional conceptions of information rights including freedom of speech, copyright, universal access, cultural, lingual, and minority diversity, and privacy. The discourse surrounding these rights typically deals with each right in isolation. As well, these discussions strive to adapt long established understandings of each right to the new technological environment. It is our contention there is a need to address information freedoms within a comprehensive human rights framework that has evolved along with the universalization of electronic communication, specifically, a right to communicate.

Communication, human rights, and communication technologies are inextricably linked. Communication is a fundamental social process necessary for individual expression and for all social organization. The ability to communicate is the essence of being human. Human rights are inalienable rights one has by the very nature of being human. Communication, then, is a basic human right.

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By William F. Birdsall, William J. McIver Jr., Merrilee Rasmussen| 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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