Internet Access Is A Basic Human Right, Except If You’re Not Sharing Political Views Of Your Goverment

One interesting study got published in Science a couple of days ago. Researchers found out that in most countries, politically marginalized groups have a much lower internet penetration rate, and although some socio-economic variables could affect results up to a certain degree, there’s strong evidence present telling us that marginalized groups (no matter whether they are politically or ethnically sidelined) suffer from lower than average bandwidth.

It’s 2016, and we all presume that the right to internet access can already be perceived as one of the basic human rights. After all, internet access is the most important part of the developing recipe. You can’t flourish as a society and as an economic entity if you lack internet access. And that’s true for most of the democratic nations, although they also lack some basic rights we all should possess, like the right to visit all sites we want (and many of us can’t access many torrent sites without using VPN, for instance). But that issue isn’t the focus of the said research.

internet-censorship-1

Researchers at the University of Konstanz (Germany) wanted to see if marginalized groups have the same quality of internet as other, government-friendly groups. Because in today’s world, making and developing a political opposition is almost impossible without the web. Your voice will be heard by the masses only if you reach for online means of spreading the word; online petitions, online promotion, are the best ways of creating and spreading the word telling that government isn’t as good as it looks.

And while many governments carry  mass censorship of mainstream (television, newspapers) media, the internet is a bit more tricky to censor (except you’re a very powerful country and can make internet giants to bow to your will and censor unwanted persons and organizations, like Twitter, does in Turkey). If censorship is hard to carry out, why not deny opponents internet access? This exact effect was found during the research. As we already stated, the effect is much less pronounced in developed, democratic societies.

On the other hand, in countries where things aren’t so democratic, researchers found that (ethnically or politically) excluded groups had significantly lower internet access, compared to groups in power, meaning that except censorship, governments can affect their opponents by simply not giving them internet access at all. As Nils Weidmann, the head of the research said, “You don’t have to censor if the opposition doesn’t get access at all.”

The research used Ethnic Power Relations list, a database categorizing various ethnic groups according to their political relevance in their home countries. So, basically, results show that groups marginalized both in ethnic (they are minorities in their countries) and political way have internet access of the lowest quality. Since many autocratic countries don’t release their internet access data, researchers used data from one Swiss Internet service provider as well as data from a database tracking the global routing system.

The results are expected, to be honest. It is known for many decades that censorship, whether it is of obvious or a more subtle type, is the best way of controlling people. And now, when we live in an internet-everywhere era, the best way of controlling masses is making sure that political opponents can’t even spread the word. If you want to make sure that they can’t talk to others the best way is cutting them from the web of all webs.

 

Source: Science, via technologyreview.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *