NetMission Insight: Human Rights Online

Written by Ariff Azam, Ratu Bintang Assyifa Arweys, Zin Myo Htet
Edited by Jenna Fung

Human rights online refer to all human rights that apply both in real life and online. These rights include freedom of expression and freedom of access to information, among others. These rights are important in the context of the online world because internet access is an extension, and vehicle of the practice of these rights. The ability to access the internet means that people would be able to access information and express themselves freely. However, it is worth noting that access to the internet has not been deemed as human rights by the UN. Instead, the UN deems the internet an important vehicle to carry these rights.

Regardless of its legality, the internet does provide opportunities to people to exercise their rights and therefore must be protected. It has been queried by one of the speakers why we highlighted the issue of access to the internet as human rights online. It is imperative to note that the internet acts as a catalyst and enabler to the emphasis of fundamental liberties of a person such as protection of the right to freedom of expression and access to information. Having said this, if there is an absence of internet access, it equates to the denial of human rights as humans should be bestowed with these rights. This can be exemplified by Finland’s initiative to make net access a fundamental right. 

We have been conferring about the effects of social media like Facebook and Twitter, whether human rights online should be curtailed or not, and the sharing of a website called It is undeniable that social media tremendously ameliorated our living yet also harmed us like personal data leakage. It is arguable that there ought to be as meager limitation as conceivable to the progression of data via the Internet, besides in hardly any, uncommon, and restricted conditions recommended by international human rights law.

The issue of human rights has been beautifully delivered with the help of internet evolution, yet its incontestable merits do not erase unmistakable threats. For an instance, it is apt to focus on the complexities of online freedom of speech and incitement to hate and violence. But the question is that to what extent does this freedom encompass? This depicts the difficulty to struck balance between curtailing the rights of the human and honoring the fundamental rights which to a certain degree, these two key issues are found not to co-exist.

Albeit there is a predicament in endeavoring to champion human rights online, we need to strive for the triumph of the idea of human rights online. DearGovernments Organization is a youth-led organization aimed to promote open, trusted, and non-manipulable internet access all around the world. A non-governmental, non-profit and civil society organization is entirely run by youth volunteers from all around the world who have been trained and mentored by Internet Society. Indisputably, states are committed to advance or encourage the satisfaction of the rights and freedom and the means important to practice right, including the internet.