Internet Freedom and Human Rights

This article considers whether the internet has become so significant, for the provision
of and access to information, and in the formation of political community and associated
questions of participation, that it requires further human rights protection beyond
freedom of expression. In short, should internet freedom be configured as a human
right? The article begins by considering the ubiquity of the internet and its significance.
A wider historical view is then taken to understand internet freedom in terms of its
lineage and development from earlier debates over freedom of expression and the right
to communicate, through to recognition of the significance of an information society and
the need for internet regulation on the international plane. The current debate over
internet freedom is then analyzed with particular focus given to Hillary Clinton’s speech
on internet freedom and its subsequent articulation by Special Rapporteur Frank La
Rue. The concluding part introduces the critical work of Evgeny Morozov and Jaron
Lanier to an international law audience in order to deepen the debate over internet
freedom, and to point to the concept’s limitations and dangers. It is too early to say
whether a ‘right to internet freedom’ has achieved universal recognition, but this article
makes the case that it is worth taking seriously and that internet freedom may need its