Whacky Weekend: Is Internet Access a Human Right?

Jay Ashworth jra at baylink.com
Thu Jan 5 16:07:56 UTC 2012

----- Original Message -----
> From: "Zaid Ali" <zaid at zaidali.com>

> On 1/5/12 7:22 AM, "Jay Ashworth" <jra at baylink.com> wrote:
> >Vint Cerf says no: http://j.mp/wwL9Ip
> >
> >But I wonder to what degree that's dependent on how much our governments
> >make Internet access the most practical/only practical way to interact
> >with them.
> >
> >Understand: I'm not saying that FiOS should be a human right. But as a
> >society, America's recognized for decades that you gotta have a telephone,
> >and subsidized local/lifeline service to that extent; that sort of subsidy
> >applies to cellular phones now as well.

> I agree with Vint here. Basic human rights are access to food, clothing
> and shelter. I think we are still struggling in the world with that. With
> your logic one would expect the radio and TV to be a basic human right but
> they are not, they are and will remain powerful medium which be enablers
> of something else and the Internet would fit there.

Well, I dunno... as I think was obvious from my other comments: TV and Radio
are *broadcast* media; telephones and the internet are not; they're *two-way*
communications media... and they're the communications media which have been
chosen by the organs of government we've constituted to run things for us.

You hit the important word, though, in your reply: "*access to* food, clothing,
and shelter"... not the things themselves.

The question here is "is *access to* the Internet a human right, something 
which the government ought to recognize and protect"?  I sort of think it is,
myself... and I think that Vint is missing the point: *all* of the things
we generally view as human rights are enablers to other things, and we
generally dub them *as those things*, by synecdoche... at least in my 

If I'm not mistaken, Vint's on this list; perhaps he'll chime in.  :-)

-- jra
Jay R. Ashworth                  Baylink                       jra at baylink.com
Designer                     The Things I Think                       RFC 2100
Ashworth & Associates     http://baylink.pitas.com         2000 Land Rover DII
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