SHOULD ACCESS TO INTERNET BE A CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED RIGHT OR A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT

By Dhruv kalantri


The Internet has become a staple of the contemporary Indian society. Although the Internet may be seen, out of all the other things, as a platform that helps in the realization of individual rights, however, it can also negatively impact such rights. This is especially true in today’s time when mass media is majorly controlled, and expressing personal views over the Internet is being gradually criminalized. It is now believed that the three important things important to sustain life that is food, clothes and house have now changed and a 

new thing is added to it that is the internet. The Internet provides a manifestation of never-ending innovation and creativity. It knows no boundary but brings huge economic chances for people in every country. The Internet allows people to improve the quality of their life. In these years the internet has acquired over three million users and has now become the most important tool for communication. The Internet has influenced almost every aspect of human life, not only private life but also public services. Right now, nobody can prevent other individuals from exposing their private life to the public. More couples and families even post images or videos of their family vacation in remote areas. Internet in this era plays a crucial role because in every part of the thing a human does today is some way or the other connected to the internet. Just like blood is necessary for the body to function 

With a total of 277 million Internet users in the year 2019, India has surpassed the United States concerning the total Internet user base. According to an IMAI-IMRB report, 37 percent of the total internet users in the year 2016 was from Rural India. information technology has changed the way people think about information, education, and communication, resulting in a broader connotation of individual freedoms and inalienable rights for almost every citizen. Although the Internet may be seen, out of all the other things, as a platform that helps in the realization of individual rights, however, it can also negatively impact such rights and/or infringe upon the rights of others. It is believed that the world is ever-evolving and faces new revolution often the term internet can be one of those inventions that could and would change the whole world.


WHAT IS A RIGHT?


The right legal, social, or ethical principle of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people.

According to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory. Thus a right can be defined in two ways. 

A right which connotes justice and social correctness synced with the rules of law and harmony. Whereas in concrete or straight jacket sense, a right connotes privileges and power which is conferred on somebody and the breach or violation of which will lead to legal actions against the infringer and enables the person to relieve. The Right to the internet which is the main point if discussion these days refers to the second way and it gives rise to another various distinction that are positive rights and negative rights.

“A positive right enables the holder of the right to claim a good or a service against the state or someone else.” “Negative rights, on the other hand, are intrinsic to us as human beings and the Constitution merely guarantees the protection of such rights.” Right to Freedom of Expression, and Right to Equality are examples of negative rights. The main proposition of this essay i.e. Right to internet falls in the positive rights because of the aforesaid reason. Thus Right to Internet can be seen as having different explications such as the right to use the internet all over the world with various restrictions and the other being the availability of various technologies to access the Internet. Now that we have seen the various explanations to the Right to access the internet now the question arises that whether it should be granted as a fundamental right or not.The moment a right is purposefully converted to a fundamental status, it increases the moral burden under which Governments control and limit its exertion. Particularly, if we do not recognize Internet access as a fundamental human right, any authoritarian state can restrict it in more relaxed conditions. We are not contesting these harms. Nonetheless, just because they occur, it does not mean that declaring internet access a fundamental human right is the best way to ensure the dilution of the causes of the upper mentioned harms. Rights are those principals that symbolize the needs of the individual. In other words, rights arise out of the needs of the individual and some of the rights are the measures that are to be taken to uplift the society and bring the society at the same peripheral.

The rights on the above basis it is demarked that the right to internet falls in the categories of a positive right and hence it is based on the above points the right to the internet whether it is to be granted as a right or not remains the question.

The supreme court said that access to the Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution, and asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review. A five-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana also asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to restore Internet services in institutions providing essential services like hospitals and educational places. The verdict came on a batch of pleas which challenged curbs imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370

Thus talking about the need to grant the right internet as a constitutional right or a fundamental right is that in this technical era it is difficult to survive without the internet. According to the UN Special Rapporteur report, 2011, the Internet is a fundamental right as it allows for free expression and free access to information. It also called for states to ensure Internet access for all its citizens. As per the BBC survey, 4 out of 5 people treated to access to the internet as a fundamental right. As per the study, published in the Journal of Applied Philosophy, shows that the internet could be a key way of protecting other basic human rights such as life, liberty, and freedom from torture -- a means of enabling billions of people to lead 'minimally decent lives'. But the fact is that it can be included in the list of luxury because it is a thing which is or can be used by only those people who can afford it. It is not a thing because of which a person cannot survive .if not present internet does not pose a question between life and death, and also the three essentials of life that were the clothes, food and the house to live in occupy the same importance as they did earlier and cannot subside internet at any point in the future life. The main purpose of the internet should not be treated for entertainment it has many things of huge importance attached to it.

Our Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression as a fundamental right for all citizens under Article 19(1)(a). The latest expansion of this right makes this constitutional provision keep pace with the innovation of technology in as much as the internet has become the primary source of information for millions of citizens. Right to Information and Right to Know are important aspects of freedom of speech and expression and the internet is at present the greatest supplier of information, if not of knowledge. It facilitates the Right to Information, hence it has been equated with fundamental rights. The telephone and the internet are means of expression because a person talking on the phone or communicating through the internet exercises his right to freedom of speech and expression.Based on these facts and the as per the opinion of Justice Bhanwar Singh Right to access the internet is fundamentally protected under Article 19 (1) (A) of the constitution of India. But the basic purpose of equality is to prevent the State from encroaching an individual's liberty while simultaneously placing upon it an obligation to protect the citizens' rights from encroachment by society and the internet has a positive side but as correctly said a coin has two faces. And the other part if the internet is such a bad part that it can even lead a person to take one’s life. It was a part of this judgment The Registrar (Judicial) vs The Secretary To Government the judgment related to the infamous blue whale game in which several citizens died due to the game. The internet thas several child pornography sites even though the government has put a complete ban on the use of such a site these child pornography sites are accessed by them in some way or the other. Various sites also gambling and betting on several sports and hence this adds to another disadvantage as this is not accepted by the society. Another instance where the internet is not used correctly is that the country has seen various money laundering cases in which crores of money are taken away by the account hackers and have bought the user of the accounts to bankruptcy. Thus keeping in the mind that internet uplifts the society in one manner but on the other side several parts of the society are spoiled or in other words submerges the society and thus it leads to downfall. Fundamental rights are those rights that have an equal effect on every individual and after bringing this point forward in my opinion right to the internet should not be a fundamental right available to the citizen. If it is done so that right to the internet is made as fundamental right then it would lead to a negative impact on society more than its positive impact. The cybercrimes of the country would grow and would lead to depletion of the economy.  But the system of democracy maximizes ingest and digest of public participation which defines the base it. As the swathe of internet facility is endless the government needs to protect the right and not to disrupt it which has been the case in many countries including Ghana and Egypt which proves the existence of hypocritical governments. Acknowledging the imperative need of recognition of Right to Internet Access, a recent resolution passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 1st July 2016, emphatically reiterates the presence of a right in the wired network of the global computer where the standard of protection is not to be compromised. The origin of the right to communication can be traced back to the same right of information which was guaranteed in Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human rights. Though the Internet may look like just a coupled instrument for mass communication, nonetheless, it is a furtherance in humanity, the bestowment of which is not a right in itself, rather it is its use that has been advocated in this note. Internet is gigantic & utopian, as it does not discriminate, presenting a new space for accessing of fundamental rights. The Government needs to look at the improvement of this right just the same way it looks for a new technology, and such improvement must be done with an appreciation for at-least the above argued Fundamental Rights. In my opinion, the right to access the internet is not a grandiose facade of Human rights but rather a much-needed right of the century for the society. A right which the society deserves and need equivocally. Thus, a complete ban on Internet would be disproportionate as it has become an integral part of our daily life. Restrictions over its use must only be placed after certain legal procedures are followed, backed by logical reasoning and reasonableness.

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