Is The Internet A Basic Human Right?

The U.N.’s independent expert on freedom of speech says governments that cut users’ access to the Internet are violating a basic human right “regardless of the justification provided.”

Frank La Rue says blocking Net access is “disproportionate,” whether it is a blanket ban imposed during times of political unrest or against individuals for violating specific laws.

Britain last year announced it planned to follow France’s lead to cut off Internet access to people who illegally download copyright-protected material.

La Rue’s report made available Thursday also urges governments to decriminalize all forms of defamation and ensure Web users can express themselves anonymously.

The report will be discussed by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva next month.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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