Internet Access Is A Human Right

So say four out of five adults of the 27,000 interviewed in 26 countries by the BBC…[Link]

[Link]

Personally, I was dumbfounded to read that the BBC even carried out a survey of this kind…But then it and its government have their own agenda…I just think the topic itself is rather stupid and arrogant…

I wonder what kind of loaded questions were asked to bring about these results especially in third world countries like Nigeria and Ghana?

Questions like this perhaps: “Listen, you idiot…We are a politically correct organization and we need politically correct answers…If you don’t answer correctly, we’ll send you off to Gitmo and you’ll never be heard of again…So, is internet access a fundamental right?”

Oops! I made a mistake…Maybe the questions weren’t loaded but the sample was…27,000 educated middle class people around the world were asked if internet access should be a fundamental right…So, that’s a majority of the affluent middle class then, not the majority of the roughly 7 billion people who live on this planet most of whom live below the poverty line…

As far as I see it, internet access is not a fundamental right and cannot be placed next to free speech and liberty…Although free speech is a fundamental right and the internet helps publish that speech, I feel the dissemination of ideas need not be a basic human right…If access to internet is a basic human right, then shouldn’t  access to a telephone, TV, newspaper and radio also be? Why have these things been forgotten?

None of this matters unless governments enforce the right to food, shelter and education…Just think about it, what would a poor illiterate malnourished person living in a drought ridden village in Maharashtra do with internet access?

Calling internet access a fundamental right diminishes other more important rights needed for survival…

FYI:

  • France’s highest court, the Constitutional Council, has ruled that the internet is a fundamental right…It was ruling on legislation against pirates stealing copyrighted music, videos etc. from the net… This is what the Council had to say: ‘The internet is a fundamental human right that cannot be taken away by anything other than a court of law, only when guilt has been established there.’ [Link]
  • In October 2009, Finland became the first country to pass a law that makes broadband access a legal right for Finnish citizens…When the law goes into effect in July 2010, every person in the country, which has a population of around 5.3 million, will have the legal right to a one-megabit broadband connection…By 2015, this legal right will extend to 100 MB broadband connection…[Link]

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16 thoughts on “Internet Access Is A Human Right

  1. I agree with you halfway. In my opinion, the Internet should be a utility like (as you said) water and electricity.

    However, I don’t feel that food, shelter and education should be called “rights”, because that implies that such things are…well rights! If this were so, then I should be able to sit on my butt and demand to be fed, clothed, and sheltered. But these are not intrinsic. They need to be provided from outside.

    The right to free speech however, I feel is a right. I can sit back and demand the right to free speech. Inasmuch as the Internet is an extremely powerful enabler of that right, I feel it has more intrinsic value than regular utilities. In fact, one can now say that lack of Internet access is a serious impediment to the exercise of the right to free speech.

    But I agree with you that we can’t go all the way. Internet access after all, costs money and no one can demand it. What the legislation in France and Finland implies is that if you have the money to pay for it, it’s the job of the government to see to it that you can access the Internet. It’s meant to cover situations where private corporations don’t find certain areas profitable enough to give them Internet access – possibly due to low density and not enough ROI even though people can afford it. That’s not too bad is it?

    Taken in the above context, the right to food, shelter, and education is already a right even in India. If I have the money to pay for it, I can get these items.

    It’s like this. In the US constitution, the wording is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not happiness itself. Because I don’t have a right to be happy. I just have a right to be able to strive for happiness without being obstructed by the state.

    Similarly, I don’t have the right to food, shelter and education. But I should have the right to try and achieve them without discrimination and prejudice.

    Me: Hmmm…Yes, you are right…Shelter and education are not rights…I guess one might say, priorities are different…However, it’s not very clear who will pay for the internet when a country says internet access is a fundamental right…I guess what they mean is that the internet will be provided to whoever wants to pay for it…

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  2. Interesting post I believe most of the western european countries have high level of social security and have ensured nobody sleeps hungry there. They can think abt access to internet being a right .We should first ensure affodable food and shelter for all. At the same time as internet is such a powerful tool it should be available for all at a reasonable rate.

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  3. Very interesting! I wonder how many countries are rich enough to assure their citizens this ‘ human right’ supposing we agreed that it is one?

    Me: I guess only small ones like Finland who have only 3.5 million people…

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  4. I agree with Bhagwad here.

    ‘Right’ can have two meanings:

    1. If something’s a right, gov. can’t take it from you. Examples of this would be freedoms like that of expression & practicing religion. Gov. won’t stop you from expressing yourself. But government won’t provide you with platform to deliver your message from. You’ll have to arrange for it yourself. Likewise, gov. won’t stop you from practicing your religion peacefully, but won’t build you your place of worship or buy you idols or pay for pilgrimages as religion does not fall in any of the legislature’s lists – state, union or concurrent. Again, you’ve to provide for yourself. Just that gov. won’t restrict all this. I guess, the overall tone of BBC article was in terms on non-restriction of accessing & disseminating data through the net. Once such a right would be made fundamental, government will have to provide strong justifications before restricting any kind of activity involving the internet, like blocking access to web sites, banning uploading, or not allowing permits for net connection in certain localities. Another implication could be lowering or ending of license fee for ISPs as levying any kind of tax on an activity amounts to restricting it.

    2. If something is a universal right, gov. provides it to you. Examples would rights to health care, drinking water, education, & with emergence of NREGA we’re moving towards universal right to employment. All these facilities can be accessed for free or highly subsidized rates as their access have been made universal rights.

    Gov. takes it upon itself to provide these facilities as the taxes they collect have to be justified. This kind of universal provision of net is being discussed only in developed countries, e.g., Finland.

    Also in point 1, if gov. decides to provide free/cheap internet then all kinds of license fee & taxes would be removed (which tend to make net a luxury rather than a right). Gov. won’t make any profit from provision of net.

    I believe Indian gov. won’t do any of the above. 🙂 Already with emergence of twitter, suppression of information has become so difficult (Hyderabad & Bareilly riots, nuclear liability bill), why’d they want more headache?

    Obviously, whether gov. actively provides net facility or not should depend on the extent to which more basic needs are fulfilled. As Charakan pointed out given India’s condition, food, shelter, education must get primacy.

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  5. Lol I get your point… but thinking of free highspeed internet being provided to me by the government sounds so EXCITING !!!!!!! :mrgreen:

    Me: Now that you are a celebrity, you might just get it!

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  6. A thought just occurred. Wouldnt it be useful, if water could be provided for everyone pipelessly for a few hours a day ? Would that be more fundamental than wireless high speed internet for all the 24 hours ?

    Me: Well said…

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  7. Really thought provoking post Sraboney.

    The comments are also food for thought.
    Would agree with Bhagwad here.

    The links you have given at the end prove that only when all other basic rights of the citizens have been met, can the govt ensure that the net too is a fundamental right.

    @Suranga As Sraboney says, well said.

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