Framing the Net

Framing the Net

The Internet and Human Rights

Rikke Frank Jørgensen

This important book examines how human rights are being applied in the digital era. The focus on ‘internet freedoms’ and ‘internet rights’ has risen considerably in recent years, and in July 2012 the first resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet was adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Chapter 4: The internet as infrastructure

Rikke Frank Jørgensen

Subjects: law - academic, internet and technology law, politics and public policy, human rights


Many scholars have described the internet as an infrastructure (Finnemann 2005; Hindman 2009; Bowker et al. 2010). The concept of infrastructure is generally used to describe the underlying foundation or basic framework of a system or organization. Examples include transportation systems such as highways, railways, and airline systems; communication systems such as telephone networks and postal services; governance systems such as court systems; and basic public services and facilities such as schools and water systems (Frischmann 2012: 4). Infrastructure often exists as an invisible, taken-for-granted resource, whereas a breakdown in the infra- structure can make its design and effects visible (Bowker et al. 2010: 97–8). The government has in most contexts played a role in ensuring the provi- sion of infrastructures, and these systems have, irrespective of the public or private ownership model, been required to serve the public on a non- discriminatory basis (Frischmann 2012: 5). When ‘information’ is added, infrastructure refers to digital facilities and services usually associated with the internet, just as global information infrastructure refers to commu- nication of data across national boundaries (Bowker et al. 2010: 97–8).

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