As the New York Times has reported, as well as many other news publications, Egypt has terminated almost all of their country’s Internet access. In an effort to suppress protests and outbursts largely stimulated by videos and groups created in online communities, Egypt has committed what many believe to be a violation of a new fundamental human right. While the Internet in Egypt is only roughly ten years old, its impact on the community has drastically changed the way people live their lives—just as it has here in the United States.
On that same token, President Obama not only mentioned an expansion of broadband access in his recent State of the Union Address, but he has also been a very large proponent of free and equal access of the Internet, an ever growing point of political contention known as Net Neutrality. He believes that no United States citizen should be at a disadvantage when it comes to Internet access and that it is one of very, very few places where anyone, regardless of primarily socioeconomic factors, should be able to speak their voice and have opportunities to start major corporations and companies like Facebook and YouTube.
While the Internet's accessibility is a relatively new point of debate, it will nonetheless become an increasingly larger problem as providers begin to enforce pricing tiers (As Verizon and Google were rumored to begin doing)—each tier having different accessibility rules according to which pricing contract the user has entered into—and countries like Egypt and Tunisia begin to either cut off or largely censor the Internet altogether.
So where do human rights begin to play a role in this ever-increasing technological world? Do we as humans have the right to Internet access? I for one believe that while the Internet should be a public domain for all to be allowed access, it is still a service that must be paid for, which makes this argument a very tricky one. I am still unsure as to how to go about answering this question, but the Internet should be recognized as a public forum that all should be allowed to both exercise their freedom and rights and to organize efforts to change an undesirable situation—as was done in Egypt. In what is already said to be one of the largest Internet blackouts ever, the people of Egypt are being denied these rights; but how fundamental are these rights to being central to the idea of what human rights are considered to be?