Fiiight for your Human Riiight to be Conneeeected!

Internet connectivity is a human right?

Yes, says the United Nations (UN), according to many sources on the interwebs, including this one. Disconnecting me from the internet violates international law.

For obvious reasons, this appeals to me. But beyond thinking it's funny to claim illegality when I cannot get online, I find this an incredibly interesting turn of events in our world.

Following the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, where the internet was repeatedly shut down in an attempt to squash political protest, I was eager to speak with the ad pros in South Africa to get their perspective on what role social and digital media played in activating the unrest.

Leaders such as Reg Lascaris, who is not only a Founding Partner in TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris, but also the Regional President of TBWA\Africa and the Middle East, reflected that it played a significant role. Social media balances out propaganda, forcing leaders and governments to be more honest and transparent, Lascaris said.

Rick de Kock, Director of Africa Operations for TBWA\Africa, also believed social media played a role in these revolutions. It does not cause them to happen, de Kock said, but allows people to mobilize and connect around a cause.

And now, that ability is legally protected. But what does this truly mean? Is there a sliding scale of human rights violation?

I just came from a country where technically, internet is accessible, but practically, it often is not. The access level is low outside of mobile (or nonexistent for much of South Africa's population), both from a financial and broadband perspective. This will change and grow drastically over the next two to three years, but at present, it is what it is. Then again, there are a variety of human rights, not limited to internet access, that deserve attention in South Africa.

In Canada, peers have described broadband access as a positive perk to the industry here. It largely matches that of the States, with widespread wifi access in public places, offices and homes.

How does this kind of mandate affect our industry? Does it open more doors to possibility for digital connection with our clients' desired networks and audiences (I know, I hate to use that word, I can't think of an appropriate replacement right now) across the world? It seems it would also open up great possibility for Social (or Social Good) Marketing.

What are your thoughts on our newest collective human right?

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