Is digital access a right?

The new digital divide is not some far away issue that is totally removed from Saskatchewan, nor is it specific to a certain region. It is a global issue that impacts the marginalized. It is also something that I am witnessing within my community school within Regina, SK. The loss of net neutrality scares me. I agree with Jannae and think it will negatively affect teachers, students and education as a whole. Additionally, it will affect the poor and the marginalized. The internet could be a place to bridge that gap and give the voiceless a voice. Access to all places on the internet, not just places owned by corporate entities, is crucial to giving a voice to the marginalized, allowing for free speech, and encouraging innovation. If we allow tiered internet to exist we are furthering the gap of equal access. We are already living in a world where the media dictates what we see and the perspective we see it from and the education system is influenced by corporate interests. Take for example, the idea of BusRadio to fund raise or fundraising events put on by large corporations. By allowing content providers to provide better access to their users, we are putting free and open source tools at risk.

“A faster web for some isn’t an equal web for all, and the rules that favor Internet service providers jeopardize the web’s ability to serve as a platform for free speech and innovation.” – Jessy Irwin, April 29, 2014

One of Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship is digital access, working towards full electronic participation in society. Everyone doesn’t have the same opportunities when it comes to technology and as (digital) citizens, we should work towards equal rights and supporting electronic access. If we exclude the marginalized, it is difficult to grow as a society.

So Facebook has decided to help provide access to those who don’t have it with internet.org, the only problem is that people with access to internet.org have limited access, limited security, and limited privacy. So is limited access better than no access at all? I don’t think so. We should be working towards providing equal digital access to all, but how do we get there? I am not quite sure, but something I think that is important to remember is that the key word is access, not tools.

I will leave you with some questions to consider when thinking of digital access in your own community which come from the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document:

  1. What are school community members’ beliefs regarding the necessity of Internet access for staff and students?
  2. What is the school’s policy and current processes regarding blocking access to Internet content and social networking services, and how can the school ensure that students’ rights to digital access are maintained?
  3. What is the school’s policy on BYOD programs, and how will the school ensure access for all students?
  4. What opportunities is the school providing for teachers in order to support their use of technology in the classroom? What steps is the school taking to ensure that students have access to up-to-date equipment, including specialized or adaptive equipment for students with special needs?

 

 

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