The Covid-19 pandemic is underscoring that internet access is no longer a luxury, but a necessity to participate in society fully. More than half the world’s population is now online. But access varies hugely ( according to the development level of countries, the wealth and education of individuals, and gender: fewer women than men use the internet.

In some places, the ability to use a crucial source of information may be a matter of life and death right now (even if not all the information is reliable). Millions of people are denied access. Human Rights Watch has urged ( governments that have imposed internet shutdowns — such as Bangladesh and Myanmar — to lift them, warning that they could prove deadly given coronavirus’s spread...

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