Affordable Internet Access Should be a Human Right

One thing that separates the internet apart from real-life is the difference in hierarchical structure. Unlike real-life, the internet does not pull your race, gender or finances in order to define you. Regardless of who you are on the internet, you would not gain or lose any special privileges. This kind of social equality is partially the reason of why the internet is so great (and horrible at the same time). Users are more or less free to choose who they want to be and what they want to do on the internet. Whether it be a troll on forums or a professional viewer of cat pictures, the choices are virtually unlimited. The only limitation to using the internet, is whether one can afford to access it.

That is why it is so important that the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission are having a series of important hearings on whether affordable internet should be deemed a human right. Making internet a human right would have internet service providers offer subsidized internet to those who can’t afford it. Companies like Rogers currently offer a subsidized rate for those who can’t afford it, but this is not enough. Many Canadians are not satisfied with the prices they are paying for their internet service. With more services being offered through the internet, Canadians are using it more and more in their daily activities. Those that aren’t connected to the internet are at a disadvantage.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The internet at one time may have been considered a luxury, however it is proving to have a bigger role in society. Educational facilities, including the elementary level, are incorporating modern technology into the curriculum, making it very difficult to learn or complete assignments if students cannot go online. Much of our print resources, such as news articles, journals, magazines and books, are now becoming digital. Services on the internet allow for users to accomplish tasks that once required more effort, such as creating surveys and presentations.

Not only do educational facilities depend on the internet, but users can also access courses that are offered through the internet. Through companies like Coursera, Udemy and MIT OpenCourseWare, users can access a variety of courses for either free or at a low cost. The internet is not only a supplement to education, but rather a necessary tool for learning.

One issue those without internet face are the missed job opportunities that could be available to them. With more employers using the internet to seek new hires, people without the internet lose out on taking advantage of these opportunities. There are more job advertisements on the internet now than there are on newspapers, limiting those without internet access. Not only can you search for jobs, but the internet can lead to a source of income, especially through the creation of media content such as self-publishing or blogging.

When people are locked out of the internet due to unaffordable prices, they lose access to many abilities. While some of these abilities may be deemed luxurious and unnecessary, it’s important to understand that some of these abilities are crucial to our survival in the modern world. Access to educational tools and job advertisements are only a few things the internet allows us to do that make it a necessity.

According to a CRTC survey, 11 per cent of respondents do not have access to the internet at home. There are Canadian families that are forced to choose between daily necessities, such as food and clothing, and the internet, and it is not an easy choice. Shouldn’t something that gives us access to our basic human rights, such as the right to work and the right to education, be also a human right?

These reasons are why we need to open up discussions on the internet’s role in our daily lives. It is not only a tool of leisure but also becoming the primary way to remain connected to the world. With so much of our lives depending on technology, whether it be accessing medical or banking records, communicating with family and friends, connecting to work, looking for jobs and learning, it seems unfair that a portion of Canadians cannot share these privileges because it is too expensive. The internet has become apart of our daily lives, and it is time that we realize that the privilege to affordable access needs to be available to everyone.

This article serves as a follow-up to my previous vlog on affordable internet access. You can check it out below:

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