Nearly everyone in the United States uses the internet on a daily basis. It is the backbone of most businesses in the 21st century, not to mention the most popular form of communication and amusement. Thus, it won’t surprise many to learn that the United Nations declared the internet, more specifically access to it, a basic human right that is integral to allowing humans to exercise their right to freedom of expression and opinion. They even updated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights back in 2016 to reflect this change. Currently, Article 19, Section 32 of the declaration states, “The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet.” This declaration by an international governing body like the United Nations sparked a larger conversation about internet access as a basic human right.
Sonia and Richard Galvan are the perfect people to weigh into this discussion, owing to the fact that they are the owners and founders of G5 Internet Services in Rio Grande Valley, Texas. G5 Internet Services has been delivering high-speed internet and streaming services to residential, commercial, and state and local governments since its inception. Thus, Sonia and Richard Galvan’s primary responsibility through their company is to provide quality internet access to people in Texas. They discuss internet access as a basic human right.
The Necessity of Internet Access
Richard Galvan claims that this modern idea about internet access being a basic human right has come about due to the necessity of the internet. People around the world are more dependent on the internet than ever before. In fact, many people believe that the internet is so essential to living a modern life that those who are unable to afford it are at a serious disadvantage. These disadvantages not only extend to working or communicating with friends or family, they also, and more importantly, relate to one’s ability to participate in politics. Without the internet, it can be extremely difficult to stay informed with politics, have your voice be heard, or even to know what your fundamental rights are in society. Thus, without internet access, people are deprived of a meaningful or impactful way to hold their government accountable. Think of examples like the #MeToo movement, the Arab Spring in the early 2010s, or even the more recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Without internet access, these political movements would not have taken off in the way they did. Whether you like it or not, the internet has become an undeniably powerful tool that can galvanize people around the world, and perhaps even lead to greater justice and freedom.
Richard and Sonia Galvan on the Reality of Internet Access as a Human Right
According to Richard Galvan of G5 Internet Services, if internet access as a basic human right was to become a reality around the world, it would have to take two forms. First, in order for the internet to allow individuals to exercise their freedom of expression, it must be truly free. This means that countries could not monitor or censor the internet they provide to their citizens in any way. In fact, Richard Galvan firmly believes that countries have a moral obligation to prevent the spread of technologies that contribute to censorship and surveillance of the internet. Further, it would be the responsibility of governments to provide basic, yet decent, infrastructure for the internet to all citizens, regardless of how much money any one citizen has. In essence, this means that funding for internet access would need to come from the government in some form, whether it be made part of minimum welfare benefits or funded in some other way. Overall, the Galvan’s urge governments to think of internet access similarly to how they think of legal counsel. If one cannot afford a lawyer in the United States, they are provided with one. This should be the case with the internet.