In 2011 Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur to the UN on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, suggested to recognise the Internet Access as a fundamental right, as it enables many other Human Rights to flourish (Rue, 2011). While La Rue’s focus is on freedom of speech, assembly and information, the internet interacts with many other articles of the Human Rights Declaration. The internet is a gateway to society and culture, for young people often the primary access point to it.
Human Rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. They also need to be ensured in digital space in order for everyone to connect on the same level with each other. Human Rights Education creates spaces to learn knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to stand up for Human Rights and protect them (Council of Europe 2010). From the point of human rights education, MIL enables and empowers persons and groups to critically engage with information in order to increase their personal autonomy as well as solidarity in society. MIL is crucial is democratic processes, as we have seen in Arab spring and in European borders crisis.
Digital competencies are as well required in almost all areas of the labour market. However, few working places provide digital qualification, most relying on school systems and non-formal education measures to equip young people entering the labour market with such skills (European Commission DG CONNECT, 2017). Acquiring digital competencies is of principal priority for young people to holistically develop themselves.
Not only does the internet address many needs young people might have, it also poses risks on a very fundamental level. In digital communication we have seen the rise of hate speech in the last decade creating a continuous tension around freedom of speech and freedom from harm of vulnerable groups. We also see an increasing radicalisation through the darker corners of the internet (High-Level Commission Expert Groupon Radicalisation (HLCEG-R), 2018). Internet shutdowns seems to be the tool of choice for oppressive regimes nowadays to bring the population back in line and undermine protests (accessnow, 2019). Last but not least all the opportunities that the internet provides requires skills and knowledge on how to use them, threatening those, without the knowledge to be left behind, creating what is called “the digital divide” (European Union, 2019).