Next time, if you feel some kind of hesitation (fearing censoring or censuring) before expressing yourself online, just remember, it’s your right to do so and UN Human Rights Council backs this human right of yours.
In a new, non-binding resolution, the UN condemns deliberate “measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online.” This condemnation means the UN is against governments shutting down the Internet at any time, and especially during times where information must be urgently disseminated such as during an election or immediately after a terror attack.
Not only this, but the resolution also focuses on the freedom of expression online, security concerns surrounding this expression, accountability on all human rights violations, and an effort to expand and provide Internet access to those to whom it’s currently unavailable.
The resolution also aims to bridge the gender digital divide and make it easier for people with disabilities to access the Internet on top of protecting those that are already online.
This resolution covers aspects of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which asserts: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
The UN is expanding the scope of this article to the Internet, which builds on a 2012 UN resolution on Internet free speech that affirmed: “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.”
The resolution was passed last Friday but was opposed by countries including Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and India. The issue was with the passage that “condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to our dissemination of information online.”
However, more than 70 countries rejected the revisions made by this minority opposition and adopted the resolution that emphasizes “the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet.” Although the resolution cannot be legally enforced, it is still a powerful move as we move further into the Digital Age.