The Internet and Human Rights
Chapter 4: The internet as infrastructure
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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