UN Says That Internet Restrictions Violate Human Rights

A Human Rights Violation?

A Human Rights Violation?

Almost as old as the internet itself are efforts from some parts of the world to sensor it. This goes beyond stopping your kids from accidentally accessing porn. It refers to people, organizations and governments who aim to stop other citizens from accessing information that would harm their efforts to have those people believe what they want them to.

If that sounds confusing, think of it as propaganda in reverse. While propaganda places partial truths and untruths in front of citizens, internet censorship takes away some level of access to the truth.

Of course, there are many who believe this is a human rights violation.

The UN Thinks So Too

The UN Thinks So Too

In a ground breaking ruling, the United Nations has decided that it agrees with that sentiment - that controlling and sheltering citizens from information that would ordinarily be accessed is a human rights violation.

Well, sort of...

Opposition

Opposition

It doesn't say straight up that denying people access to the internet is a human rights violation, but it does say that the rights people enjoy online should mirror those they are afforded off line.

What this means for countries like China, who are notorious for filtering information to their mass of citizens, is unclear. One thing is for sure though, there are many who oppose the ruling.

Dissenting Nations

Dissenting Nations

Russia are another nation who would like to see certain parts of the ruling reworded or removed.

According to The Verge, nations against the ruling (which also happen to be those who impose restrictions) have urged the Human Rights Council to remove a passage which "condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to our dissemination of information online".

 

 

Great Firewall

Great Firewall

As hinted at earlier, the "Great Firewall" of China (see what they did there?) is a good example of a nation which restricts information where its citizens are concerned.

Certain aspects internet behavior we might normally consider "free speech" are criminalized in China. In addition, certain websites are blocked from access and certain keywords are filtered from searches.

It will be difficult to address the whole global community in an effort to decide what is cool and what isn't. As only one tiny example, pornography and gambling are illegal in an otherwise seemingly liberal country like South Korea, and so where does the UN draw the line.