Internet access is a human right.

The gap between those with and without fast, secure and neutral internet access has profound implications for their ability to participate in and contribute to society. The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated this point, revealing how integral the internet has become for education, employment, healthcare, and disseminating public information.

Students without internet access face a significant risk of educational lag as digital resources, educational apps, and online libraries become increasingly embedded in the learning process. Basic services - even those for the homeless - are almost impossible to navigate without a smartphone and a connection. Financial services, healthcare and participation in the democratic process are becoming dependent on connectivity. But the digital divide still remains.

Addressing critical access involves more than just acknowledging the problem. It asks for tangible actions, policy implementations, and significant investment. The reliance on private enterprise for the provision of internet access is fundamentally flawed and unacceptable. Private corporations and tech giants, driven by the relentless pursuit of profit, inevitably prioritise areas with higher revenue potential, typically urban and affluent communities, while blatantly neglecting rural or economically disadvantaged regions. This results in access to a critical resource being determined by wealth, not need.

Private companies, unchecked, have already attempted to lobby for and implement exorbitant pricing strategies, making internet access a luxury for the few rather than a right for all, violating the principles of net neutrality and creating a tiered internet that favours certain content over others, fundamentally altering the democratic nature of the web.

The concentration of access oversight in the hands of a few profit-driven entities poses grave threats to data privacy and consumer rights. Given these substantial risks, internet access demands robust government intervention, regulation, and direct public provision.

Our interpretation of internet access must be as a universal, equitable, and non-discriminatory right, intrinsic to societal participation and personal development, not a commodity to be bought and sold for profit.

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