Universal Internet Access: A Modern Human Right or a Path to Digital Colonialis


  • Dr. A. Shaji George Independent Researcher, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India




Internet access, Digital rights, Digital Colonialism, Digital divide, Online governance, Data protection, Privacy, Digital literacy, Cyber sovereignty, Platform accountability


Access to the Internet has become an absolute necessity and nearly ubiquitous in the contemporary digital age. Statistics place the number of online users at 59% of the world's population, or more than 4.5 billion individuals. In addition to providing access to entertainment, education, and healthcare, the Internet also facilitates business opportunities, social connections, and information. Especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, it facilitated social interaction, commerce, and remote work in the midst of lockdowns. Nevertheless, significant disparities in access continue to exist, with 37% of the global population lacking both Internet connectivity and digital literacy. The majority of this "digital divide" exists between developed and developing countries. In the twenty-first century, economic mobility and participation are severely restricted for those who lack connectivity. Whether Internet access should now be regarded as a fundamental human right as opposed to a luxury has been the subject of discussion. In today's digitized society, proponents contend that Internet accessibility facilitates the realization of established civil rights such as free speech, healthcare, and education. Conversely, there are those who urge against prioritizing the implementation of fundamental necessities such as shelter, food, and water by framing Internet access as an essential right. This has prompted suggestions that Internet access be classified as a "ancillary right" that supports fundamental human rights guarantees without superseding them. Although the Internet offers numerous advantages, apprehensions have been raised regarding the monetization and consolidation of personal data flows by corporations, particularly in developing nations. Critics contend that prominent technology companies such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook function as "digital colonial" forces, as they exploit individuals' data for financial gain without offering adequate privacy safeguards in exchange. Developing nations function as promising emerging markets, in return for obtaining negligible tax revenues from technology companies. Achieving universal Internet access while implementing adequate security measures continues to be a delicate balancing act. Although connectivity has been crucial for promoting economic and social inclusion in the era of information, it is insufficient to address systemic inequalities on its own; guaranteed fundamental rights, effective data governance, and corporate responsibility are also required. In conjunction with a rightsbased framework that addresses fundamental requirements, increased Internet accessibility must be accompanied by regulatory reforms that grant users more protections and tech companies greater obligations across jurisdictions. By effectively managing these priorities, developing nations can circumvent exploitative digital reliance and harness technological advancements for the purpose of sustainable development.




How to Cite

Dr. A. Shaji George. (2024). Universal Internet Access: A Modern Human Right or a Path to Digital Colonialis. Partners Universal International Innovation Journal, 2(2), 55–74. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10970024