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RIGHT TO ACCESS INTERNET: A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT

Updated: Sep 3, 2020


BY-K.AMRUTHA

(KONERU LAKSHMAIAH UNIVERSITY, VIJAYAWADA)


Internet connectivity has changed, and continues to change people's lives across the globe. This has been one of the most critical aspects of people's lives in the 19th century, and the reliance of people on the Internet has grown dramatically. From the advent of the internet and its access to the public, fields such as connectivity, education, trade, business, etc. have advanced considerably.


Internet plays a significant role with the escalation of technology, so a primitive question arises that:

Whether or not Internet access should be considered a civil right? In 2016, the UNHRC General Assembly expressed an important human right to Internet access. The Internet is the undiscovered ocean of information, and the biggest supplier in the world. Mr. Vinton G. Cerf, said the Internet was very significant, but it could not be elevated to the level of human right.

Technology is, in his opinion, an enabling agent of rights and not a privilege of its own. India has legislation which deals with cyberspace crimes.


In its latest judgment the Apex Court suggested that:

The freedom to practice any profession or to participate in any trade, enterprise or occupation on the Internet shall enjoy constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g), but these fundamental rights should be limited in accordance with Article 19(2) and (6) of the Constitution, including the proportionality test. Right to Internet access is an integral part of the right to education and the right to privacy under Articles 21A and 21 of the Indian Constitution respectively. Internet Access not only increases students' opportunities to gain knowledge but also improves educational efficiency.


Introduction:

The Indian Constitution is the sovereign law and the rights granted under Part III of the Indian Constitution are the fundamental rights which include the right to freedom; the right against exploitation; the right to religious freedom; the right to minorities; the right to equality and the right to constitutional remedies. Such rights play an integral role as they are most necessary for the achievement of an individual's maximum intellectual, moral and spiritual status.


The Internet is a universal computer network that distributes a variety of information using a TCP / IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol) interconnected network. All is going electronic in today's Hi-Tech environment, and accessing them with ease on the Web plays a crucial role, even the automotive industry is developing over-electric vehicles that can be accessed directly through cell phones with the aid of the internet. The Internet takes us to a world of technology and self-contained cars.


The Internet is seen as a significant tool for promoting the Convention among women. Taking into account the report submitted by Turkmenistan in 2012, the CERD Committee noted that Web-based media (e.g. forums, websites) play an important role in promoting minority human rights and should therefore refrain from restricting access to these media and other information on the Internet in violation of the freedom of expression provided by international law.


Right to internet a basic human right:

In 2016, the UNHRC General Assembly expressed an important human right to Internet access. Web could be a key to protecting the other fundamental human rights, as it not only provides a variety of information but also helps to easily live life. We are living in a world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) will eventually overtake personnel and all will be achieved on a single verbal order, thus projecting a major position to take advantage of such opportunities on the Internet.


In the current scenario, giant political debates are taking place over the Internet, one or other in this context, our political freedoms must be exercised over the Internet, clarifying that Internet access is important for individuals to have equal chances to guarantee the use of their political independence. In India, Kerala was the first state to recognize the right to the Internet a fundamental human right, the Internet is the road to the future and the freedom to access the Internet is indispensable in order to lead a decent life and is thus a human right of morality.


Relationship between Internet Access and Human Rights:

Mobile Internet Service and Broadband Internet provide Indian people from all walks of life with a life-support network. The Internet is not only a source of information, networking and social media access; it is far more than that. Not only does the Internet represent a significant role for businesses and professions, but it is of paramount importance to home-based workers and small and individually owned businesses that sell their products and services online, providing them with the means to survive.


Web provides millions of people across the world access to transportation by supplying them with a global network. The Internet is a means of obtaining schooling for students taking electronic tests and taking online diplomas and other classes, while promoting the growth and enjoyment of the right to learn is important. The Internet is becoming basic to our day-to-day life just as a financial development underwriter and an impetus for social turning of events.


Internet Access: A Part Of Fundamental Right


In Anuradha Bhasin vs. Union of India and Ors, the Apex Court observed that the freedom to exercise any activity or to indulge in any commerce , industry or occupation on the Internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g), but that these fundamental rights should be limited in compliance with Article 19(2) and (6) of the Constitution. Internet is an imperative resource for exchange and export and plays an significant role in carrying out e-commerce business, as it offers a more competitive businessman with a global forum.


The Apex Court in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India held that "the process concerned with the modalities of controlling, limiting or even denying a fundamental right falling under Article 21 must be rational, not reckless, deliberately crafted to carry out the substantive right itself, not to negate it."


Internet Connectivity has become a basic requirement for the students, as the content has become more available. In Faheema Shirin RK vs. State of Kerala and others, Hon'ble High Court declared that, according to Article 21A and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the freedom to access the Internet is part of the right to information and the right to privacy. Internet Access not only increases students 'chances to gain knowledge but also improves educational efficiency.


Supreme Court in PUCL vs. Union of India had noted that:

Under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution the right to freedom of speech and of expression is guaranteed. Freedom here includes the freedom to openly express one's thoughts by word of mouth, publishing, printing, photography or some other way.

Web lets people share their opinions on a worldwide forum, which is thus bound by Article 19(1)(a ) of the Constitution. Article 21 of the Constitution has a greater degree and is an unfilled container in which people, in the light of their experience, must spill their material into it. There is no contrast between a right granted under Part III of the Constitution and those proclaimed on the basis of the Apex Court rulings.


Countries Which Have Declared Internet Access A Basic Human Right:

· Estonia: The Estonian Parliament sanctioned the new Telecommunications Act in February 2000, including Internet Access as an essential right of man.

· Greece: In 2001, Greece amended its Constitution and adopted Article 5A, which promotes the possibility of receiving, producing, exchanging and dispersing electronically transmitted data, is a responsibility of the Government.

· European Union: Directive 2009/136 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council entered into effect on 25 November 2009, amending Directive 2002/22 / EC and allowing internet transmission at a data rate adequate to allow for stable Internet connectivity.

· France: On 10 June 2009, the Constitutional Council declared that the law penetrated security by empowering the HADOPI to track the movement of individuals on the web, and then finally declared Internet access a fundamental human right.

· Finland: In 2010, the Telecom Sector Act, which conveyed that universal assistance additionally established an Internet humanitarian community and outlined access to the Internet by amendment as a basic human right.

· Costa Rico: In 2010 Costa Rico's Supreme Court ruled Internet access a fundamental human right. According to Article 33 of the Costa Rican Constitution Access to the Internet is a fundamental human right.

· Spain: Spanish people became entitled to access the Internet in November 2009 because of Act 2/11 of March 2004 which states that a sustainable economy will affix broadband access to its public service.

· Canada: In 2016 the Committee for Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications proclaimed Internet connectivity a basic benefit.


Internet Shutdowns and Human Right:

Internet blackout is simply a state-imposed blanket ban on access to Internet, either smartphone or fixed-line, and not only a restriction on social media, it also affects industries, healthcare programs, employment and human rights . In a developing country such as India, shutting down Internet access is like closing down all highways for industrial growth and even shutting down all banks at once.


On 4 August 2019, web shutdown was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after Parliament repealed Article 370 of the Constitution and the State of J&K was bifurcated into the Union Territory of J&K and Ladakh, triggering a 213-day shutdown that was carried out until 4 March 2020 leading to India's longest shutdown of Web.


In a decade, there have been 391 Internet shutdowns in India, resulting in a dramatic decrease in technology growth, where the government has introduced IT sector development by introducing programs such as Digital India, which has nine foundations, six of which are directly linked to Internet connectivity, but not only does Internet suspension build a obstacle for such a pro Suspending Internet Access in one part of the world is an expedient expression of human deprivation elsewhere, and also has an economic effect.

In one of the Seminal cases Supreme Court held that a statute that deprives a citizen of personal freedom must not only be subject to the scrutiny of Article 21, but also of Article 14 and Article 19 of the Constitution. Articles 14, 19 and 21 form the Golden Triangle and are mutually inclusive, and cannot be read in isolation. The aforementioned Articles are of prime importance in the idea of the rule of law and inhale essentialness. The Golden Triangle gives individuals maximum protection against any violation of their freedoms, thus closing down internet infrastructure is violating the rights of individuals.


Conclusion:

The Internet plays a vital role in economic growth, because we live in an age in which the Internet is an integral part of human existence. In Anuradha Bhasin vs. Indian Union and Ors. The Apex Court held that the right to exercise any career or to carry on any trade , business or occupation on the Internet platform enjoys constitutional rights and is therefore indispensable under appropriate constraints under Article 19 of the Constitution. Suspending Internet access not only obstructs online enterprises but also obstructs a person from their source of living, except in the event of emergencies Fundamental Right granted under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution cannot be revoked.


As held in Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India, a statute restricting personal liberty to a citizen shall follow the inspection of Article 21, Article 19, and Article 14, which are the Golden Triangle of India's Constitution and are thus fundamental to human rights. The UN General Assembly Human Rights Council and various other countries such as Spain, Costa Rico, Finland, France, the European Union, Estonia and Greece have declared Internet access a basic human right. Freedoms granted under the terms of Article 14 and Article 21 are absolute human rights which cannot be curtailed. Therefore, Internet Access falls under the Golden Triangle criterion.


Reference:

  • https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-has-no-views-on-if-access-to-internet-is-a-fundamental-right/article30536065.ece

  • https://www.indiatoday.in/news-analysis/story/internet-access-fundamental-right-supreme-court-makes-official-article-19-explained-1635662-2020-01-10

  • https://www.drishtiias.com/pdf/access-to-internet.pdf

  • https://thewire.in/rights/internet-access-fundamental-right

  • http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2855-internet-a-fundamental-right.html


[DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only. We have tried to include as much information as possible but there are chances that some important information may have been missed .It is NOT to be substituted for legal advice or taken as legal advice. The publishers of the this article shall not be liable for any act or omission based on this note].

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