Module 3: Access to the Internet
Modules on Litigating Freedom of Expression and Digital Rights in South and Southeast Asia
- An obligation on States to progressively promote access to the internet is emerging under international law, in recognition of the fact that access to the internet enables freedom of expression and a variety of other fundamental rights.
- Practices such as internet shutdowns and blocking and filtering of content are severe restrictions on the right to freedom of expression which often do not constitute justifiable limitations.
- 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 restrictions on 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 discrimination based on the device, content, author, origin and/or destination of the content, service or application.
- Intermediary liability occurs where technological intermediaries, such as internet service providers (ISPs) and websites, may be held legally liable for unlawful or harmful content created by users of those services. Such liability has a chilling effect on freedom of expression online.