Whacky Weekend: Is Internet Access a Human Right?

Leo Bicknell bicknell at ufp.org
Thu Jan 5 16:29:05 UTC 2012

In a message written on Thu, Jan 05, 2012 at 11:09:59AM -0500, Jay Ashworth wrote:
> > Broadband, to me, is not a human right. It is something that makes our
> > society more efficient, and improves the quality of life for virtually
> > every citizen, so I do think the government has a role and interest in
> > seeing widespread, if not universal broadband deployment. Failure to
> > provide broadband to someone is not a human rights violation though,
> > and the idea that it is probably is offensive to those who have
> > experienced real human rights violations.
> Didn't *say* broadband.  Didn't even say "Internet service".  Said "Internet
> *access*", in the non-techspeak meaning of those words.

For the purposes of my e-mail and this point in time, they are all

That is, if "interenet access" is a right, providing someone a
9600bps dial up does not, in my mind, qualify.  That might qualify
for e-mail access, but you can not use a reasonable fraction of the
Internet at that access speed.  Similarly, denying someone internet
service denies them internet access.  The only difference between your
terms and mine, is that mine are fixed to this point in time while
yours is a general concept that may move in the future.  One day 50Mbps
broadband may not qualify anymore as "internet access" due to where the
interernet ends up.

But let's take a specific (famous) example.  Kevin Mitnick.  From
his wikipedia page:

  "During his supervised release, which ended on January 21, 2003, he was
  initially forbidden to use any communications technology other than a
  landline telephone."

If Internet access (to use your term) had been a human right than
his human rights were violated by the government when they banned
him from using any communications technology.  Do we really want to
suggest that banning him from using the computer is the same level of
violation as enslaving him, torturing him, or even killing him?

       Leo Bicknell - bicknell at ufp.org - CCIE 3440
        PGP keys at http://www.ufp.org/~bicknell/
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