When Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, put out a call to America’s high-tech companies to assume some responsibility in spreading Internet access to all people, many human rights departments were left scrambling trying to figure out viable ways to respond.
Zuckerberg’s remarks, presented at the United Nations, centered on his idea that international human law and governments around the world are obliged to make the Internet accessible to everyone. Then he asked technology leaders and companies to get involved as well.
His point, that access to the Internet is a human rights issue, follows a thought-provoking paper released earlier this year by the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings. The report notes that while 3.1 billion people have access to the Internet, an astonishing 4.2 billion in this world do not. That amounts to 58 per cent.
In other words, more than half the people in the world are shut off from the knowledge, facts, social support, and education that comes from using the Internet. In fact, Zuckerberg cited a study to the effect that if people have access to the Internet, one in 10 will find a way to escape poverty.
It’s not an easy problem to solve because there are many contributing factors to the situation. In some cases it involves taxes, government policies, operational issues in certain countries, prohibitive expense, and general inaccessibility.
Zuckerberg suggests global justice is possible only if everyone has access to the Internet. He sees it as a basic human right, like water and food.
Whether or not your company agrees with him, more and more technology leaders are questioning their responsibilities within their own firm to ensure that every employee has an opportunity to learn Internet search skills and to be able to take training online.
You may not be able to solve a global problem, but you can contribute to spreading Internet knowledge within your own organization. At the end of the day, the question is how much training money is allocated to supporting staff who still need to acquire basic Internet skills?