Is internet a basic human right?

By Monday June 18th, 2018 Afrikaans, English No Comments

Martin van Staden wrote in a De Rebus article that, insofar as the liberty of the individual is concerned, internet access is certainly a  human right. However, for a human right to be of a “human” nature, it must be a universal human right. In other words, it must be the kind of right that must belong to  all human beings. These type of rights must have existed for as long as human beings have existed, regardless of the fact that they were only recently named.

Our Constitution did not create new rights. It simply acknowledged those rights that were already universally regarded as human rights and enshrined them in our Constitution. So: Section (16)(1)(a) provides that everyone has freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other media. Section (16)(1)(b) provides that everyone has the right to receive and impart information or ideas.

This means that every South African is entitled to internet access and information without government interference. However, it does not mean that everyone is entitled to have an internet connection at the taxpayers’ expense.

Vint Cerf says that:”technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself.”

Therefore, internet access is not a right in the legal sense.


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