The internet is integral to society—in 2016, the United Nations classified access to the internet as a human right, and cutting or censoring the internet by states is illegal. Yet, according to the World Economic Forum, 3.9 billion people (52 percent of the world’s population) are denied access to it. #InternetForAll is a movement to provide everyone with home internet.
This is not only a phenomenon that occurs in developing countries; Statistics Canada shows that 42 percent of families in the lowest Canadian income quartile do not have internet at home. In fact, Canada is the only G7 nation without a national broadband plan, making it harder for lower-income Canadians to utilize the full resources of our 21st century society.
Headed by ACORN Canada (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), #InternetForAll rallies the support of everyday Canadians to fight for affordable internet access through member demonstration and a campaign pressuring major telecommunication companies and the CRTC to provide affordable internet.
Telecommunications companies in Canada such as Bell, Rogers, and Telus hold a monopoly on internet and cellphone plans. In July 2015, the CRTC told Bell they could not monopolize fibre-optic infrastructure and would have to sell access to other providers. Bell lobbied federal and local governments to overturn the CRTC, but the Liberal government rejected its appeal.
This was a first step to control the current privately controlled oligarchy that dominates Canadian telecommunications. Large companies have the ability to raise prices and prevent smaller internet carrier companies from entering the market. This makes it difficult for lower-income families to afford internet access, thus barring them from doing schoolwork, applying to jobs, and furthering the “digital divide” between the poorest in our community.
As access and usage of the internet is so ingrained in our lives, ACORN Canada has garnered a lot of attention and support, with over 70,000 members across Canada. Currently, they are circulating a petition demanding $10 per month high speed internet and subsidized computers for families that fall under the Low Income Measure by 2020.
In this day and age, it’s virtually impossible to exist without a virtual device. The ability to get news alerts, ask Google a question about schoolwork, or search online for job applications is quintessential to daily life. To sign the petition and provide all Canadians with accessible and affordable internet, sign here: http://www.internetforall.ca/petition.
Article by Uma Kalkar for The Strand