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Technological inequalities: recognizing the access to Internet as a Human Right

Eloïse RYON, European Union Delegate to the Y7

Representing the European Union as a French national to the Y72019 in France: taking a stand for the European identity.

I was born and raised in Le Mans (France), I studied high school in Malmö (Sweden) and undertook my first two years of higher education in Leicester (England). After having lived in different European countries and discovered several European societies, ways of life and cultures, I can proudly say that I am European. However, stating the fact that I am a European citizen has triggered different kinds of reactions around me. In fact, speaking of a European citizenship or identity is often confused to be a supranational identity abolishing the national one. I do not agree: the European citizenship is a fact; it is part of the identity of all EU member states’ citizens and is complementary to the national identity. Our European identity should be embraced rather than rejected, as it brings people together, closer than ever before, identifying as a whole: United in diversity.

Representing the European Union to the Y7 2019 as a European and French citizen in France is, in my opinion, the perfect example that both citizenships exists and are allies rather than adversaries.

Representing the European Union to Y7 2019: pushing forward the idea that the access to Internet should be recognized as a Human Right and treated as such.

Next week, my colleagues and myself will try to tackle issues of inequalities (technological, environmental, economic and gender related) during the Y7 Summit, a conference bringing together delegations of young people from each G7 countries and from the African Union. The aim of the conference is to agree on policy recommendations for G7 leaders to discuss in Biarritz this summer. The Youth perspective has become an important one over the past few years and has been increasingly taken into consideration by leaders over the globe. We, as the European Union delegation to Y7, are ready to take part in that momentum.

During the 2019 edition of the Y7, one particular focus will be put on technological inequalities, an issue on which I was chosen to specialize in. While trying to find ambitious but reasonably consensual policy proposals to put forward, we began our researches by looking at the EU action in that field. Then, we were inspired by the multiple policies put in place by different member states, reveling the strength of the European Union: its diversity. Particular attention was given to Estonia, one of the EU member states that is the most developed in terms of technological research and implementation into everyday life. Indeed, Estonia has decided to declare the access to Internet as a Human Right, and therefore acted upon that declaration in order to put in place an equal access to and harmonious Internet speed through the all of Estonia, banishing “white zones” where the Internet is either limited or inexistent. As a member of the EU delegation to Y7, I proposed to push forward this idea during the Summit in order for the Human Right status of the access to Internet be recognized in all G7 countries. Why? Because, the access to Internet is now a precondition to the exercise of our freedom of expression, our freedom to be informed and our freedom to enjoy access to online administrative or private services. Once declared a Human Right, G7 countries will be incentivized to put much more efforts into putting an end to “white zones” and to consider establishing the neutrality of the Internet as a principle.

I am looking forward to working on that proposal with all Y7 delegation, particularly the United States delegation with which we will certainly have passionate debates on Internet neutrality.

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