Human Rights

The United Nations states a child is any person under the age of eighteen years old.

Committee on the Rights of the Child urges all levels of government to use the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) as a guide in policy-making and implementation:

  • To raise awareness and disseminate information on the Convention by providing training to all those involved in government policy-making and working with or for children.
  • To involve civil society—including children themselves—in the process of implementing and raising awareness of child rights.

The United Nations counts Internet access as a basic human right. 
The 2011 UN report created by Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, takes a hard line on the importance of the Internet as "an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress." Whilst overwhelmingly supporting the Internet as a communication platform, the UN report warns how the internet's unique architecture threatens power brokers in societies:

The vast potential and benefits of the Internet are rooted in its unique characteristics, such as its speed, worldwide reach and relative anonymity. At the same time, these distinctive features of the Internet that enable individuals to disseminate information in "real time" and to mobilize people has also created fear amongst Governments and the powerful. This has led to increased restrictions on the Internet through the use of increasingly sophisticated technologies to block content, monitor and identify activists and critics, criminalization of legitimate expression, and adoption of restrictive legislation to justify such measures (UN 2011 Report).

The UN report, whilst acknowledging the logistical barriers that some nations face when it comes to delivering internet service, urges all nations to make plans to offer universal access and maintain policy that won't limit access for political purposes.

The Special Rapporteur remains concerned that legitimate online expression is being criminalized in contravention of States' international human rights obligations, whether it is through the application of existing criminal laws to online expression, or through the creation of new laws specifically designed to criminalize expression on the Internet. Such laws are often justified as being necessary to protect individuals' reputation, national security or to counter terrorism. However, in practice, they are frequently used to censor content that the Government and other powerful entities do not like or agree with (UN 2011 Report).

The Electronic Freedom Foundation says the UN's support for anonymous expression and the protection it affords should inform how governments regulate security and surveillance. Forms of online surveillance often take place for “political, rather than security reasons in an arbitrary and covert manner," La Rue argues, calling on governments to decriminalize defamation, do away with real-name registration systems--including the parameters in Facebook's terms and conditions that allows governments to collect users' names and passwords--and restrict rights only in the face of an imminent threat.  Broad surveillance powers or the erosion of privacy online endanger anonymity's ability to protect dissenters and journalists and those using pseudonyms when they speak out (UN 2011 report).                
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