Colombia seeks to expand its Internet coverage in 2021 reached 46,4 million Internet connections. However, the connectivity gap is still 34,4%. The pandemic accelerated the connection process, but there is still a long way to go, especially in the proper use of the Internet.

Internet, a fundamental right

In July 2021, the national government approved the law establishing Internet as an essential service, in order to tend to universality that allows guaranteeing and ensuring the provision of the service. The then representative to the Chamber Rodrigo Rojas strongly promoted his bill and managed to overcome all obstacles. The Law is considered a great advance, although it is not enough and, if not developed, it could remain as a declaration of good intentions.

However, the law itself warns that in order to achieve Internet universality and close the digital gaps in the country It is not enough to have more connections: it is necessary to generate ICT appropriation campaigns as priority.

In a poll by .CO Internet, a subsidiary of GoDaddy Registry, and who operates the .CO domain, it was found that ‌6 out of 10 interviewees consider that the Internet should be a free space, with no limits to content and possibilities of expression (except for illegal and/or abusive content).

There is even more consensus on the vision that the Internet should be considered a right for all: 96% of respondents answered yes to this question.

Digital Literacy, a priority to advance connectivity

According to the survey, the main uses that Colombians give to the Internet are check emails, view social networks and content exploration (Web browsing).

“What remains is to continue with the digital training process, which will allow the vast majority of Colombians to understand the capabilities of the Internet. Digital literacy would help us think that we could go further, and that the work of virtual education, of content generation, can be even stronger, more penetrating”emphasizes Eduardo Santoyo, General Manager of .CO internet.  

As a literacy exercise, ImpactoTIC and Meta since 2020 are allies in Colombia in carrying out the program I'm digital, an initiative that trains citizens in the appropriation of digital skills. In these 2 years, the program has more than 27.000 certified Colombians and 40.000 trained in Digital Citizenship.

Although all initiatives in digital literacy and training in Digital Citizenship contribute, the challenge remains immense. According to the report 'ICT and the digital user: a perspective from official statistics', which published the Dane in 2021, 29,3% of Colombians do not know how to use the Internet, while 27,6% consider that it is very expensive.

For Eduardo Santoyo, the proper use of the Internet must be a job not only for the government, but must go hand in hand with private companies, academia and non-governmental organizations.

“Where progress is being made most rapidly is in trade, but in fundamental, basic issues, of what the Internet can contribute to human development, not just economic, that is where it must be strengthened”, he affirms  

In conclusion, five decades after his birth, today there should be no doubt that the Internet should be a right for all and should be universal. (It could still be debated if it should enter the level of Human Rights, but that is another story).

What should also be clear is that Colombians –and global users in general– must advance in the true use of the Internet, beyond entertainment and communication, and they must also understand that although the Internet is a right, it also entails duties and responsibilities.

Therefore, Digital Literacy must become a priority for the country.

Image: Flickr