Module 3: Access to the Internet
Summary Modules on Digital Rights and Freedom of Expression Online in sub-Saharan Africa
- An express right to the internet has not been recognised in international law. However, it is widely accepted that access to the internet enables a variety of other fundamental rights.
- Practices such as internet shutdowns and blocking and filtering of content often violate the rights to freedom of expression and do not constitute a justifiable limitation.
- National security is frequently relied upon as the justification for an interference with access to the internet, as well as other interferences with the right to freedom of expression. While national security is listed as one of the legitimate aims for derogation from the right to freedom of expression in appropriate circumstances, it is often used by states to quell dissent and cover up state abuses.
- ‘Net neutrality’ refers to the principle that all internet data should be treated equally without undue interference, and the concept promotes the widest possible access to information on the internet.
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- Intermediary liability occurs where governments or private litigants can hold technological intermediaries, such as internet service providers (ISPs) and websites, liable for unlawful or harmful content created by users of those services. Such liability has a chilling effect on freedom of expression online.