Internet has emerged as the most empowering tool of the 21st century. However, the new technological tools can also be subject to discords and confrontations with the government of the day. There are already reports of governments aiming to crub internet freedom. Since 1995, governments around the world are making efforts to balance a need to deal with serious issues such as security, internet freedom, internet accessibility, but in repressive societies, these concerns often serve as convenient pretext to engage in censorship or surveillance of the internet that is stated to violate the rights and privacy of users and threatens the free flow of information and access to internet. India is stated to have the third highest number of internet users in the world by crossing 100 million users (around 40 million users use the internet via mobile phones) in December 2011. However, considering India’s population crossing 1 billion marks, this figure do not give a complacent picture of provisioning Internet in India as a basic utility service. Reports say, despite increasing affordability of PCs and internet penetration, the net penetration rate is low, which is less than 10 per cent compared to global standards. A 100 million internet users cannot be considered a critical landmark unless internet use in India enters a critical period of growth with universal access. Development deficits and divides cannot be bridged unless information access and services are denied. And access to Internet is the much required utility platform towards this.
Information accessibility is the first step of empowerment in a country like India, where 70% population lives in 638,365 villages, and most of them are located in the remotest regions of the country. Reportedly, rural and underdeveloped countries are not able to access information due to lack of basic information, infrastructure and means to access information.
Digital Empowerment Foundation initiated “Internet Rights” in 2011 to advocate ‘internet access for all’ at the national level. As its first step of the project, DEF & APC jointly submitted their first UPR (Universal Periodic Review) in 2011 focusing on internet rights and making internet as an effective tool to access right to information in India.