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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
September 2024
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Book description

Merten Reglitz proposes a new human right that ensures Internet access for those who cannot afford it and protects that right from arbitrary interferences by those that would exploit it for harm. The first part of the book justifies the claim for this new right by showing how Internet access is vital for the enjoyment of human rights around the globe. In the second part, Reglitz specifies the content of this right, assessing today's standard threats to Internet access. He recommends a minimum international standard of connectivity and explains how states have misused the Internet. He documents how private companies already manipulate both internet access and content to maximise profit, and how lack of rights enforcement allows people to harm others online. The book establishes that a new human right to free internet access is essential to secure its role for the benefit and progress, not detriment, of humanity.


‘This excellent book makes a case for a human right to internet access that is strong, detailed, careful, and empirically informed.’

James Nickel - author of Making Sense of Human Rights (1987, 2007)

‘Free access to the internet does not appear to be remotely the right kind of thing to be the subject of a human right, but this eye-opening and accessible book may persuade you otherwise. Powerful and sophisticated argument, richly developing the philosophical concepts of standard threats and linkage arguments, is embedded in a perceptive and comprehensive grasp of the unique and indispensable functions of the internet in today’s digitalised societies.’

Henry Shue - author of Basic Rights (1980, 2020)

‘A must-read for all who live in the digital age. Reglitz argues that free internet access should be a human right - provided to those who can’t afford it and protected from interference. Not being able to go online profoundly influences almost every aspect of our personal and professional life. Those who can’t access the internet, or who can’t use it without fear, suffer. We have to take seriously Reglitz’s proposal to make internet access a human right. Without it, digital exclusion is a profound form of social exclusion. It is a severe restriction on our ability to enjoy the political rights to freedom and the social rights to health and education. The right to internet access is not, Reglitz argues, rights inflation, but a necessary and basic right. Reglitz takes time to tell us exactly what granting such a right would involve, leaving no room for excuses that it’s unclear what needs to be done. A compelling case that a right to internet access is absolutely required to live a decent life.’

Heather Widdows - author of Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal (2018)

‘In this timely and highly original book, Merten Reglitz makes a compelling case for the human right to free internet access. The right requires that the internet be free of charge to those who cannot enjoy it, and free from arbitrary government interference. Reglitz argues powerfully that, in present circumstances, the enjoyment of widely recognised human rights is insecure without free access to the internet. Anyone committed to these human rights, then, must also be committed to free internet access. The case for the human right to free internet access has found in this book a powerful philosophical defence.’

Darrel Moellendorf - author of Mobilizing Hope: Climate Change & Global Poverty (2022)


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