(Picture courtesy of home.zcu.cz.)
In a long and honorable tradition of defending human rights, the United Nations today has issued a report that insists we have the right to express ourselves on the internet. Of course, here at FDL we exert that right proudly, and, if I may be excused for a bit of pride, very soundly.
The U.N.’s independent expert on freedom of speech says governments that cut users’ access to the Internet are violating a basic human right “regardless of the justification provided.”
Frank La Rue says blocking Net access is “disproportionate,” whether it is a blanket ban imposed during times of political unrest or against individuals for violating specific laws.
Britain last year announced it planned to follow France’s lead to cut off Internet access to people who illegally download copyright-protected material.
La Rue’s report made available Thursday also urges governments to decriminalize all forms of defamation and ensure Web users can express themselves anonymously.
When users of the internet find out the facts they need, and act in enlightened self-interest, it is the ideal of government and society. These basic tenets should never be lost sight of, and should always be exercised responsibly and in the best interests of us all.
The elements of today’s world that want to stamp out freedom of communications are acting against the spread of truth. When any element acts against truth, it is obvious that they are working against and fear the rights of us all.
Sometimes the U.N. doesn’t live up to what we expect of it, but this time it has served the world well. When we know what is right, and do it to the best of our ability, the world is better off for it.
Free to use the internet – while we are part and parcel of that ethic, we are better off when it’s a freedom known to everyone, everywhere.