WASHINGTON, June 6, 2011 – The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, presented his report on freedom of expression and the Internet to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday, concluding that Internet access is a basic human right.
In what was hailed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as a ‘landmark report,’ La Rue’s report also declared that disconnecting individuals from the Internet goes against international law.
According to La Rue’s profile on United Nations Human Rights website, a Special Rapporteur is appointed by the Human Rights Council as an independent, unpaid, expert. The position is honorary, and the Special Rapporteur’s job is to examine and report back in a country situation or specific human rights theme.
“This report explores key trends and challenges to the right of all individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds through the Internet,” stated the report. “The Special Rapporteur underscores the unique and transformative nature of the Internet not only to enable individuals to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, but also a range of other human rights, and to promote the progress of society as a whole.”
The 22-page report addresses censorship, cyber-attacks, data protection and privacy, Internet access and the necessary infrastructure to enable Internet access.
“Indeed, the Internet has become a key means by which individuals can exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said La Rue in the report.
The report was presented on the same day that Renesys Blog, the blog of Internet transparency firm, Renesys, reported that approximately two-thirds of all Syrian networks became unreachable from the global Internet. Renesys Blog confirmed that seven of the 40 Syrian networks were back online Saturday, June 4.
In February, United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, made similar remarks in speech regarding Internet freedom to George Washington University.
“Internet freedom is about defending the space in which all these things occur so that it remains not just for the students here today, but your successors and all who come after you,” said Clinton.
Cynthia Wong, Director for Washington-Based Center for Democracy & Technology’s Project on Global Internet Freedom, said in a statement regarding the release of the report, “We welcome the Rapporteur’s report as a significant contribution towards the development of a progressive human rights jurisprudence for the Internet.”
“It’s a struggle for human rights, it’s a struggle for human freedom, and it’s a struggle for human dignity,” said Clinton.
Digital Literacy Training Needed for Optimal Telehealth Outcomes, Healthcare Reps Say
Digital literacy should be a priority to unlock telehealth’s potential, a telehealth event heard.
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – Digital literacy training should be a priority for providers and consumers to improve telehealth outcomes, experts said at a conference Tuesday.
Digital literacy training will unlock telehealth’s potential to improve health outcomes, according to the event’s experts, including improving treatment for chronic diseases, improving patient-doctor relationships, and providing easier medical access for those without access to transportation.
Julia Skapik of the National Association of Community Health Centers said at the National Telehealth Conference on Tuesday that both patients and clinicians need to be trained on how to use tools that allow both parties to communicate remotely.
Skapik said her association has plans to implement training for providers to utilize tech opportunities, such as patient portals to best engage patients.
Ann Mond Johnson from the American Telemedicine Association agreed that telehealth will improve health outcomes by giving proper training to utilize the technology to offer the services.
The Federal Communications Commission announced its telehealth program in April 2021, which set aside $200 million for health institutions to provide remote care for patients.
W. Antoni Sinkfield: To Succeed in 21st Century, Communities Need to Get Connected Now
One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community and understand its problems.
One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community, understand its problems, and provide support in challenging times. Particularly during the pandemic, it has been hard not to notice that my parishioners, and folks across the country, are divided into two groups: those with access to the internet, and those without.
In 2022, digital inclusion is still something we strive for in poor and rural areas throughout America. The lack of reliable internet access is an enormous disadvantage to so many people in all facets of their lives.
To fully participate in today’s society, all people, no matter who they are and no matter where they live, must have access to the internet. Think of the remote learning every child had to experience when schools were closed, and the challenges that families faced when they didn’t have access to a quality connection.
It’s a question of plain fairness.
Politicians have been talking for decades about bringing high-speed internet access to everyone, however many families continue to be left behind. More than 42 million people across the country lack affordable, reliable broadband connections, and as many as 120 million people who cannot get online are stuck with slow service that does not allow them to take advantage of everything the internet has to offer.
People of color are disproportionately affected by lack of broadband access
Every person in rural towns, urban neighborhoods, and tribal communities needs and deserves equal and full economic and educational opportunities. Studies show that students without home access to the internet are less likely to attend college and face a digital skills gap equivalent to three years’ worth of schooling. Small businesses, which are the cornerstone of rural and urban communities alike, need broadband to reach their customers and provide the service they expect.
Simply put, having access to the internet in every community is vital to its ability to succeed in the 21st century.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to take major steps toward a solution. Last year, Congress passed President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides $65 billion to expand broadband access and affordability. It is essential that we use this money to connect as many unserved and underserved communities as we can – and as quickly as we can.
Different places need different options to bridge the digital divide
As we bridge the digital divide, we must listen to those who have been left behind and make sure that we deploy solutions that fit their needs. Different places need different options – so it’s important that all voices are heard, and the technology that works best for the community is made readily available.
All people need access to broadband to learn, work, shop, pay bills, and get efficient healthcare.
When I talk to my parishioners, they speak about how much of their lives have transitioned online and are frustrated about not having reliable access. They do not care about the nuances of how we bring broadband to everyone. They just want to have it now – and understandably so.
This means that we must explore all solutions possible to provide high-speed broadband with the connection and support they need, when they need it, regardless of where they live.
Now is the time to meet those struggling where they are, stop dreaming about bridging the divide, and just get it done. Our government has a rare opportunity to fix an enormous problem, using money already approved for the purpose. Let’s make sure they do so in a manner that works for the communities they’re trying to help.
Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield, Ph.D., serves as Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary, and is an ordained Itinerate Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to email@example.com. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
Biden Delivers Remarks on Free Broadband to Qualified Households
Biden compared the value of broadband to telephone service, and drew parallels to the historic effort to connect the country.
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2022 – President Joe Biden emphasized the essential nature of broadband during a public appearance on Monday.
Biden delivered remarks at the White House Rose Garden on the day’s earlier announcement that the federal government would work with both regional and national broadband providers to provide essentially free broadband to qualified households.
“Too many Americans simply cannot afford to get connected even if there is access to get connected. So, they go without high-speed internet, or they sacrifice other necessities in order to make it work,” Biden said.
“High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer – it is a necessity,” Biden said. “That is why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”
Biden also laid out the criteria for eligible households to take advantage of Affordable Connectivity Program, which when paired with the effort by ISPs to keep 100 Mbps download services under $30, provides free internet to consumers.
“If your household income is twice the federal poverty level or less – that is that’s about $55,000 per year for a family of four – or $27,000 for an individual – or a member of your household is on Medicaid or supplementary [social] security income or a number of other programs – you are eligible.”
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