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The question of access to the Internet

Practicing judicial access to Internet technology will not be effective unless the multiple dimensions and power structures of society as a whole are carefully considered.
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Internet technology is an undeniable reality of today's era. All those who try to join or stay away are directly or indirectly affected by this. Every step of development from our daily life is being guided by them. In this sense, access to Internet technology is becoming a major agenda today. Here access is not limited to having a mobile phone with you, but rather to explain their unconditional autonomous access.

The question of access to the Internet

The availability of internet coupled with its seamless use is a huge opportunity in itself. The use of internet technology is widespread in the rapid availability of information and in making a large impact in a limited time. The Internet has become more effective in conveying the latest information on the Palestine-Israel conflict to the world or in learning about the situation in other countries in the past during the Covid epidemic. One of the attractions of the Internet is the opportunity to confidently express one's opinions freely.

is also the best medium for various options for knowledge acquisition, from conducting various campaigns considering possible risks. The Internet is a great platform for rights activists from marginalized groups, gender and sexual minorities, disempowered struggling communities, etc. to take their issues to the mainstream while maintaining privacy. Various campaigns on online platforms, voices raised by marginalized communities and changing social commentary demonstrate its importance. Globally, with the slogan 'Digital All', gender equality and greater sustainable development are envisioned through innovation and women's access to technology. However, there is still little interest in raising issues of sexuality and identity on the Internet. On the contrary, they try to divert the seriousness of the issue by saying, "Feminism on the Internet too?".

Women make up 63 percent of internet users worldwide. According to data, 43.6 percent of social media users in Nepal are women. Women are less accessible, for them the Internet is in some cases controlled and directed. Some people have experienced that its use has been banned due to the fact that they are women, girls and disabled. Cases of unnecessary surveillance can be heard from family, society, private tech companies and state level. In the past, Tiktok was banned in countries including India. In Nepal too, the use of TikTok was banned due to reasons such as increased promiscuity and violation of social dignity.

According to Numbio, Nepal's Internet is ranked 96th in terms of cost. Due to the high cost of mobile data and the lack of universal service, the economically disadvantaged sections are still not fully covered by the Internet. Therefore, the Internet cannot be seen as a necessity and a right, rather than a luxury. The Internet itself is not accessible and inclusive. If we search for 'man' in Google, there will appear images of people of a certain gender identity, similar body shape and color. Technologies such as facial recognition technology, finger print sensors and body scanners may not cover everyone.

It is not entirely comfortable for people with different body types, disabilities. Some time ago, during the preparation of national identity card, the eye scanner failed to detect my Chimsa eyes. I remember the agony of the staff there saying 'how sore your eyes are' and making you widen your eyes many times. Like me, people from other tribal groups, people with physical disabilities may have had this experience. I have had to experience many things like making fun of a person's physical appearance, commenting on body parts, making people feel inferior.

Lack of up-to-date technical education is another challenge in the Internet sector. Any type of restriction or ban on access to information is against the principles of democracy and freedom. We have seen and experienced cases of resistance from the mass media sector and media workers when the internet was shut down at the state level during special events such as political upheavals, civil movements, and conflicts. Mass media and civil sector protested against censorship imposed by the government during the 2062/063 people's movement in Nepal. Recent examples include internet blackouts, media shutdowns and content censorship during the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Such actions by the state undermine the right of individuals to have unhindered access to information. Internet content management (content moderation) and artificial intelligence by tech companies are used to promote and enforce ideas. This directly leads to polarization of opinion. As a result, there is a risk of spreading ethnic and communal hatred and violence. Due to the misleading and false information sponsored by powerful groups on the Internet, the common people are increasingly hindered from getting accurate and realistic information freely. Which directly affects the presence of social, cultural and political activities of individuals. Control-oriented actions such as unnecessary surveillance and prohibition directed by vested interests are despotism against people's rights.

Laws such as the proposed National Cyber ​​Security Policy, 2080 have provisions that allow the state and service providers to directly intervene, monitor and guard internet content. Such arrangements are likely to restrict individual autonomy and free access rights to the Internet. Laws such as the Electronic Transactions Act have provision for decision-making by guardians or parents in the case of persons with disabilities and children. Such arrangements show the discrimination that the law sees towards these classes.

In order to make sustainable prosperity possible with the Internet and innovation, it is necessary to broaden the understanding of technology access in view of the complexity of society. To ensure meaningful participation on the Internet, the root of existing problems must be identified and addressed strategically. The multiple presences, experiences and their interrelationships in society should be addressed from a fundamentally marginalized group and a feminist perspective. Practicing judicial access to Internet technology will not be effective unless the multiple dimensions and power structures of society as a whole are carefully considered.

प्रकाशित : फाल्गुन १७, २०८० ०८:४६
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