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The world wide web. Can you imagine a world without it?

The internet. What can we say about this invisible web our entire planet relies on so profoundly? It is hard to imagine that it was only three decades ago that hardly anyone had ever heard of this invention, let alone fathomed the impact it will have on our civilisation and the possibilities it would soon open.

We have seen revolutions begin online. We have witnessed alleged tampering of elections through its cables. We are aware that governments use access to the internet as a way to curtail freedom of information – sometimes even cutting off internet supply all together in extreme cases.

The internet has allowed otherwise repressed communities to flourish online; for individuals to find other like-minded people from vastly different areas of the globe. It has made us more connected than ever before and at the same time, the most alone we've ever been.

How is the internet being used to support, and sadly curtail human rights the world over? Welcome back to FairPlanet's weekly roundup. Read. Debate: Engage.

The good

the internet is being used to spark political revolutions, call out on crimes and create communities like never before

The Arab Spring of 2012 has become a blueprint for the political and activist power the internet has harnassed citizens across the world. While the revolution later took a sour turn, it is impossible to deny its role in shaping recent history and sending a riveting message across the world: we can congregate, arrange and come together through online channels.

Since then we have seen countless movements that were birthed through the internet. #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and #SchoolStrike4Climate to name just a few.

Of course these movements cannot remain online but require a physical counterpart that sees people marching, publically speaking and demanding action. But without the power of these hashtags and their ability to reach people anywhere in the world, the sheer scale and impact of these movements would have been much more difficult to achieve. The internet is perhaps one of our strongest political tools if used correctly, of that there is no doubt.

who is afraid of twitter
The bad

Access to the internet is being used by governments and forces in power to curtail freedom of information

Digital rights are becoming more important as access to the internet is an integral part of living in the world today. And it is precisely with this acknowledgement that governments and those in power are trying to suppress access to the internet.

Internet shutdowns are not uncommon in countries across Africa, South America and South East Asia. A shut down can either mean the complete shutdown of internet, meaning that no one in the country is able to connect to online services – including banks, hospitals and airports, or it can be in the form of seriously slowing down the internet speed, or even shutting down certain websites and apps, like Facebook and WhatsApp.

There are many organisations around the world working to help protect the digital rights on people. Access Now is an international NGO that "defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world", working across advocacy, policy, legal aid, grants and crucially its helpline. Join its movement and help secure the digital rights of citizens the world over as access to the internet becomes a human right, not a luxury.

You can support Access Now's latest campaign HERE, and help prevent a damaging bill from passing in Honduras that will see freedom of expression endangered on the internet.

On Digital Rights
child internet

Together for a better internet

by Bob Koigi

There is a growing danger that lurks online, even as more people, including children, access the internet now more than ever.

Russia denies its citizens access to future global internet

by Igor Serebryany

The Russian motivation to build a sovereign net improves the capability of Moscow to conduct large-scale cyber-surveillance and monitoring.

From hashes to the darknet: battling online terrorism isn’t that straightforward

by Yair Oded

June 2017 saw the birth of a new anti-terrorism force: a union between some of the world’s largest tech companies. Facing pressure by European leaders following a series of deadly terror attacks.
Country focus

Tucked between Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, Honduras spans across the entire slice of central America's region, touching both the Carribean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. The country has a population of just 9 million citizens and has been said to be the most underdeveloped nation in the region.

Honduras was dominated by the military until the 1980s, working closely with the U.S. to repress any revolutionary movements that might otherwise spark change. The country has suffered from gang violence, corruption and ongoing drug wars for decades, making it commonplace for citizens to migrate to the US and other countries in search of a better, safer life.

The media in Honduras is largely owned by private individuals with political bias and press freedom is under threat in the country, with journalists being under danger for reporting freely.